Wine & Spirits

8 May 2019

Japanese Whisky - Beyond Suntory and Nikka

Japanese Whisky - Beyond Suntory and Nikka

Author: Vintage Wine  /  Categories: Wine & Spirits, Spirits  /  Rate this article:
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With the high demand and low supply of Japanese whisky, some Japanese producers have resorted to using stocks of whisky that weren’t distilled in Japan.  Some mix foreign whisky with Japanese whisky and call it Japanese whisky.  Some buy stocks of imported whisky, age and bottle it in Japan and call it Japanese whisky.  Unless you are buying Yamazaki, Hakushu or Nikka, it is hard to tell if what is in the bottle is actual whisky distilled in Japan.  

 

Matsui Distillery in Tottori Prefecture (western Japan) is a producer that has not been transparent about the origins of its whisky - whether it is distilled in Japan or somewhere else.  Matsui makes another label, Kurayoshi, which is suspected to be a blend of different whiskys, not necessarily Japanese whiskey.  Matsui has long been a producer of shochu since 1910 and in 2015 received a license to distill whisky (which probably is an admission that Kurayoshi 18 year old is not Japanese whisky).  The company started actual distillation in 2017.

 

Despite the mysterious origins of Matsui’s (and Kurayoshi’s) whiskies, the recent releases have been good quality.  Kurayoshi 18 Year Old is a pleasant, lighter style whisky that has been gobbled up by consumers trying to find the virtually impossible to find Suntory and Nikka 18 year old whiskies.  Matsui has now released a set of new whisky - Sakura Cask, The Peated and Mizunara Cask.  These are NAS (non-aged statement) whiskies and are 48% alcohol.  You have to give Matsui credit, it is one of the first to make a sakura cask whisky, and everybody knows the Japanese are obsessed with sakura.  Mizunara, Japanese oak, has been trendy in the alcohol beverage world so this is another interesting bottling.  And what whisky lover doesn’t like a little peat.  Supposedly these whiskies are distilled by Matsui in Japan and received 14-19 months of cask aging.

 

Matsui has joined Suntory and Nikka as Japanese whisky producers to win Double Gold at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition (judged blind).  In 2019 Matsui’s Mizunara Cask won the honor.  Matsui did quite well racking up a bunch of medals for these whiskies as well as other bottlings it produces.  

 

2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Matsui Mizunara Cask - Double Gold

Matsui The Peated - Gold

Matsui Sakura Cask - Bronze

 

We have these in stock now.  

 

Matsui Sakura Cask Single Malt Japanese Whisky  $85.00

A single malt whisky distilled in the rich, natural environment of Tottori and aged in cherry wood casks.  Combined with the malt aroma and bitter flavor of unblended whisky, a faint, sweet, crisp smell of cherry blossom spreads throughout the mouth.  This masterpiece, carefully crafted with heart and passion, is brought to proof with high-quality natural spring water from Mt. Daisen.

Matsui The Peated Single Malt Japanese Whisky $85.00

A single malt whisky made from carefully-chosen seated malt, distilled in the natural environment of Tottori and aged in selected casks.  This whisky evokes a mellow, fruity sweetness, with a smoky, peaty finish.  This masterpiece, carefully crafted with heart and passion, is cut to proof with high-quality natural spring water from Mt. Daisen.

Matsui Mizunara Cask Single Malt Japanese Whisky $85.00

A single malt whisky distilled in the rich natural environment of Tottori and aged in Mizunara (Japanese oak) casks.  Combined with the bitter flavor of unblended whisky, a faintly sweet, aged aroma tickles the nose with a smooth yet rich, lingering aftertaste.  This masterpiece, carefully crafted with heart and passion, is brought to proof with high-quality natural spring water from Mt. Daisen.

 

Kurayoshi Malt Whisky 46%ABV $62.00

This pure malt whisky has been aged for more than 3 years in ex-bourbon white oak casks.  It has a soft malt aroma that is fragrant and refreshing.  The flavor is raisins, nuts and vanilla, with a balance of tart and sweet that harmoniously spread throughout your mouth.

Kurayoshi 18yr Malt Whisky 50% ABV $200.00

A deep and rich fragrance of the highest quality make you feel the long-term maturation of over 18 years.  The complex and deep flavor profile joins the sweet taste of honey mixed with smoke and spice and a mellow sweetness of vanilla and refreshing touch of mint.  It is a drink that can satisfy the best whiskey enthusiasts.

 

 

Fukano is a separate distillery than Matsui and has been producing some interesting whiskies.  This is a rice whisky.  Past bottlings of Fukano have tasted like a combination of Scotch and Japanese whisky.  

Fukano Vault Reserve Whisky #1 40.5%ABV $85.00

This is a mildly sherry influenced version of the Vault Reserve.  Tasting notes include plums, muscadines, sandalwood, cinnamon, sherry with the lightest touch of gunpowder.  5,443 bottles produced globally.

 


 

 

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