Dec 2021 Bottle Roundup: Akkeshi Rittou, Yuza Single Malt, Ichiro’s Malt & Grain for Mandarin, etc.

Once again we take a look at some bottles that have recently been released or will soon. With more distilleries popping up, the product release calendar is getting quite full!

BLENDED MALT JAPANESE WHISKY SHERRYWOOD RESERVE ASAKA

The latest from the Asaka Distillery is an on-trade only release to commemorate the company's completion of their second aging warehouse. As the name says, it spent time in sherry wood, 18 months to be specific. 440 bottles at 50% abv, but as mentioned this one was only for bars.

Even so, the company did apparently do a lottery for 30 bottles via their website. The page has been pulled but hey Google Cache still has it. It costs a whopping 26,400 yen at retail. Drink this one at a bar, for sure.

Despite the name "Blended Malt," presumably all of the malt whiskies that went into this bottle came from the Asaka Distillery itself.

Akkeshi Single Malt Japanese Whisky Rittou

The fifth and latest release in the 24 solar terms series from Hokkaido's Akkeshi Distillery is dubbed Rittou, or "start of winter." The key malt is Akkeshi-grown malt aged in mizunara casks, but it also leans into sherry casks as well.

55% abv, 19,800 yen after tax. That price is their new default for Japanese whiskies, by the way. This one has already dropped so look for it at a Japanese whisky bar near you as there are around 10,000 bottles.

Yuza First edition 2022

Going into this year I mentioned that the Yuza Distillery was hitting their 3-year mark this November, but their first single malt would probably wouldn't make it in time for 2021.

That prediction has turned out to be true. Even so, we'll take what we can get. "Yuza First edition 2022" is due from Yamagata's Yuza Distillery in February 2022.

It's a hefty 61% abv at 700ml, and there will be 8500 bottles. 16,500 yen after tax. Yuza hasn't really had any public release prior to this bottle, so I'm excited to give it a try.

Akashi Malt Session Double Distilleries, Akashi Double Blenders Malt Harmony

There are two different bottles coming out of the Akashi Distillery, both the results of a collaboration with the Nagahama Distillery.

The first is "Akashi Malt Session Double Distilleries," though it actually has three components:

  • Non-peated malt distilled at Nagahama Distillery
  • Lightly peated malt distilled at the Eigashima Distillery, aged for 4 years in Bourbon barrels
  • Lightly peated? malt distilled at the Eigashima Distillery, aged for 3 years in Olorosso sherry casks

500ml and 47% abv. 11,000 yen after tax.

The second is called "Akashi Double Blenders Malt Harmony," and it involves non-Japanese whiskies as well:

  • Non-peated malt distilled at Nagahama Distillery
  • Lightly peated malt distilled at the Eigashima Distillery, aged for 4 years in Bourbon barrels
  • Lightly peated? malt distilled at the Eigashima Distillery, aged for 4 years in Pedro Ximenez casks
  • 4-year matured malt from outside Japan
  • 5-year matured malt from outside Japan

Certainly this one highlights the blending skill rather than the distillation/maturation skill of each distillery. Given it isn't entirely Japanese it's more affordable at 4950 yen after tax for 500ml at 47% abv.

Fuji Hokuroku Distillery Highball

I'll forgive you if you haven't heard of the Fuji Hokuroku Distillery, but that seems to be the formal name of the whisky distillery by Ide Jozoten that we mentioned was already distilling since July 2020.

They've announced their first-ever product release, and per Amazon JP, it's a canned highball!

It's not just any canned highball though. Based on the product description, this can contains only whisky (newborn, technically) distilled at the company's distillery near Mt. Fuji. Their malt whisky specifically uses sake yeast -- not the beer yeast or whisky yeast that's traditional for whisky. The same can also contains grain whisky, but it too is distilled in-house using rice.

Sounds pretty wild. At only 399 yen for a can, it's probably at least worth a try.

Saint-Emilion Wine Cask Ichiro's Malt & Grain For Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo has announced their private bottling of Ichiro's Malt & Grain, and it sounds like a nice one: it's a world blend aged in a Premier Grand Cru Classé 'A' cask from Bordeaux's Saint-Emilion.

The Mandarin otherwise hasn't detailed what's in the bottle; do they even know? But with Ichiro's Malt & Grain releases being as celebrated as they are, I suppose it won't matter to most people interested in this one. I mean, Ichiro's Malt & Grain, wine cask, could it really be bad?

Probably not. You'll need to buy a bottle at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo for 66,000 yen and keep it at the bar there to find out. I would add that the Mandarin Bar is probably my personal favorite five-star hotel bar in Tokyo by a long shot.

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