This month's round-up brings on a healthy helping of new bottles from Shizuoka, Nagahama, and two single malt whiskies from Hiroshima's Sakurao Distillery. There's also a lottery for Kanosuke's single malt and a new brandy out of Hokkaido.
Shizuoka Prologue W
Following quickly after their very warmly-welcomed first single malt whisky, Prologue K, the Shizuoka Distillery is at it again with a new release called Prologue W.
While Prologue K was distilled using only the distillery's ex-Karuizawa pot still, Prologue W here is distilled using the world's only wood-fired directly heated pot still. The firewood comes from Shizuoka, too.
It looks like Prologue W markedly be significantly different from Prologue K. And not just because of the pot still used -- W uses a mix of Japanese malt, peated malt from Scotland, non-peated malt from Scotland, and even beer malt from Germany. Then there's the casks. While Prologue K was entirely first-fill Bourbon casks, Prologue W was matured in first-fill Bourbon barrels, first-fill Bourbon quarter casks, and virgin American oak barrels.
This one starts shipping on June 21, 2021. The online lottery is open from June 11 to June 13. It should be interesting to compare it directly with Prologue K, given they are both 3 year maturation.
5000 bottles will be made available, only for the Japanese market. 700ml, 55.% abv, 8943 yen after tax.
Sakurao Distillery's Single Malt Sakurao, Single Malt Togouchi
Here's one of the releases we expected this year: the first single malt out of Hiroshima's Sakurao Distillery.
But it's not just one bottle. Instead, Sakurao is giving us two bottles, differing in their maturation location. These will both be released on July 1, 2021.
- Single Malt Sakurao 1st Release Cask Strength is matured at the company's facilities at the distillery itself, which sits on a port of the Seto Inland Sea. As a result, they say we can expect a bit of sea spray influence. On the nose--according to Sakurao--we'll get ripe grapes, orange, and bitter chocolate. Then on the palate there's sweetness of vanilla, smokiness, a pinch of spiciness, and some depth. The finish is woody, smoky, and long with a thick sweetness. 54% abv, 700ml, 9350 yen after tax.
- Single Malt Togouchi 1st Release Cask Strength is matured in the company's famed Togouchi tunnel, originally a trial tunnel built for trains passing through the mountains in deep Hiroshima prefecture. It's a very different environment from the distillery's location at the port: have a look at some pictures of the nearby Sandankyo Gorge and you'll see why. This is the same tunnel that Sakurao B&D uses to mature their "Togouchi" brand of fake Japanese whisky, so it's a bit surprising/confusing that they would use the exact same name for their actual Japanese whisky. I suppose "Single Malt Togouchi" is distinct from just "Togouchi." In any case, Sakurao says we'll get new greens, fresh apple, marmalade and apricot on the nose, then a light and smooth sweetness on the palate. The finish is reportedly refreshing and chill. 52% abv, 700ml, 9350 yen after tax.
Nagahama Distillery Vol. 3
By my count the Nagahama Distillery is now up to volume 3 of their releases (see: volume 1 and volume 2), and it looks like they are continuing to just crank out single cask/"single batch" bottlings. I suppose it can't be helped given the distillery's tiny output. These all drop on June 1, 2021.
- Single Malt Nagahama Bordeaux Cask Finish, Cask Strength Batch 0986 is 60.2% abv, 318 bottles, 500ml, and 17000 yen before tax. 2.5 years in a Bourbon barrel, then half a year in a Calon Segur red wine hogshead.
- Single Malt Nagahama Wine Cask x Bourbon Cask, Cask Strength Batch 0078 is 55.4% abv, 418 bottles, 500ml, and 15000 yen before tax. This one is a vatting of 3-year wine cask malt and 3-year Bourbon cask lightly peated malt.
- Single Cask Nagahama Bourbon Cask Malt & Rye, Cask Strength Batch 0088 is 60.4% abv, 321 bottles, 500ml, and 15000 yen before tax. This one has a mashbill(!) of 77% malt and 23% rye, meaning the two grains were combined from the very outset of the whisky-making process. We've seen a rye release out of Hakushu, but there are definitely not many Japanese whisky distilleries messing with mashbills. So this one certainly piques the interest.
Single Malt Kanosuke Lottery now open
We talked about the upcoming and very highly-anticipated Single Malt Kanosuke last month. The company is now running an online lottery to purchase bottles, and it runs until May 27 at 5PM JST. If you're interested in this bottle and have a shipping address in Japan, definitely enter this lottery because I suspect demand for it will be extremely high once it's released on June 16. Read my review of their most recently released bottle to get an idea of what to expect.
Shima Fukuro 1987 33 Year
In other spirits news, Kokobu Hokkaido is celebrating their 80th anniversary this year. To commemorate the event, they're release a 33-year aged version of Shima Fukuro brandy. This was distilled way back in 1987.
I like Tokachi Brandy a helluva lot -- read my review of one of their 30-year brandies to find out why. This 80th anniversary bottling will be limited to a mere 400 bottles, and only made available to the on-trade. If you see it in a bar and have even a passing interest in Japanese brandy, you know what to do.
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