Our friend and guest writer Mac from Kanpai Planet is back today with the review of another Japanese whisky, this time the Fuji Gotemba Single Grain.
Most drinks fans are familiar with Kirin, whether through their Kirin Ichiban Shibori beer (Kirin Ichiban outside Japan) or through Four Roses Bourbon, which they own.
But outside Japan, not many know that Kirin is the number 3 whisky producer in Japan, behind Suntory and Nikka.
In November 1973, the Fuji Gotemba distillery began production. It was built by Kirin-Seagram, a joint venture established in August 1972 between Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. (Japan) [50%], JE Seagram and Sons [45%] and Chivas Brothers [5%].
Keith Bonnington, Whisky Cellar‘s founder and who we interviewed for the first Whisky Cellar Tweet Tasting, likes to be busy. We tried his first series of releases during a Tweet Tasting back in September last year, but the second series was just a few months ago in August. And he’s already working on his fourth series that I really do hope I’ll get to try once again. But let’s talk a bit about indy bottlers first, then you thirsty readers will be able to check the review of the drams we tried.
Rebel is one of the four brands of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskeys coming from Lux Row Distillers in Bardstown, Kentucky. You can trace back the history of Lux Row back to 1843 when David Nicholson, a St. Louis grocer, began making and selling whiskey in his general store. The Rebel Yell recipe was invented in 1849, but the Rebel Yell brand itself (though since then the Yell has been dropped) was created only almost a century later, in 1936, by Stitzel-Weller Distilling Co. to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Weller company. While this article is part of a Lux Row Distillers Flash Blog event for the launch of their third release in the Kentucky based brands limited edition cask finish series, we won’t just taste and review it, but also put it against their Rebel 100 bourbon.
Naguelann is a brand of whisky from Brittany created in 2014 by Lenaïck Lemaitre. He started maturing whiskies distilled by neighbour Breton distilleries, allowing him to release his first expressions in 2015, with Cuvée Grand’Pa, and in 2016, with Ed Unan. If he started maturing new make made by others, he’s now also distilling himself. Lemaitre also owns a whisky shop and bar in Saint-Malo called ArKoad, where you can buy his creations as well as whiskies he bottled as an independent bottler, and taste many other whiskies from everywhere around the world. Let’s review his first release, Naguelann Cuvée Grand’Pa Eilvet.
The legend says Sir Ernest Shackleton, preparing his Antarctic expedition to the South Pole in 1907, ordered 25 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky to heighten the expedition team spirit. By the way, I love how whisky is always rare and old, especially blends. Do you think they mean rare as a wink to a good steak cooking, just a bit but not too much? Thus the whiskies that make the blend spent just a bit of time in casks but definitely not too much? Unfortunately, Shackleton and his team didn’t reach the South Pole, but at the time they still went by far to the farthest south latitude ever attained, 88° 23′ S, missing the South Pole by just 97.5 nautical miles (180.6 km or 112.2 mi.). I said the legend, but it seems it’s a fact, as a century after the expedition, in 2007, three cases of the original Mackinlay’s blend were discovered, frozen into the ice beneath Shackleton’s base camp at Cape Royds. As Mackinlay’s website says, the whisky was excavated and flown to New Zealand where it is exposed by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust. Let’s talk a wee bit about blends market share, then it’ll be time for Mackinlay’s Shackleton review.
A few weeks months ago, The Whisky Cellar, a quite new independent bottler, announced its second outturn, with brand new single casks for whisky amateurs to enjoy. As for the first one, back in September 2020, Keith Bonnington and Steve Rush organized a Tweet Tasting to allow a handful of lucky people to taste a selection of drams taken from this second outturn. I absolutely love the first Whisky Cellar Tweet Tasting with some stunning drams, so boy was I excited for this one…
Fun fact: we’ve not written anything about Scotch whisky on this humble blog this year. We didn’t write much at all to be fair. And if you were expecting a Scotch whisky review here, well you’re going to have to wait a little more, as we go back to Ireland today. And even almost as far from Scotland as we could without leaving the UK and Ireland, as we’re going to the Dingle Peninsula. Put down that map and that ruler, it was a figure of speech, I know it’s not the furthest point on the map by quite a few miles. Dingle Distillery released a few weeks ago their first permanent expression, a single malt Irish whiskey, after releasing their previous single malts (and single pot still) as batches. But today, they’re becoming big girls and boys, and we’re going to see how well they did. Oh, and we have a guest that will bring his Scottishness with him, so that’s almost as if we reviewed a Scotch whisky today, right? No, that doesn’t count you say? Anyway, let’s have a chat with Graham Coull, Dingle’s master distiller, then we’ll review Dingle’s Single Malt. And I won’t go into a presentation of Dingle Distillery, my good friend Brian @MaltMusings did one that I invite you to go read. Cue the intro! (Ahem, I mean scroll down, I know we’re not on TV.)
Bimber distillery released a new series to celebrate the London Underground, a great engineering project of the 19th Century, and together with Steve Rush they offered to try them during a new Tweet Tasting. Bimber was one of my first ever Tweet Tastings almost two years ago (already!) and since then I’ve been really following what they do and bought a few bottles they released. So you can imagine I was quite excited at the prospect of trying these four whiskies, especially since thanks to Brexit and wouldn’t try my luck grabbing one by fear of having hide and seek with customs and annoying shipping companies.
Suntory’s first big announcement of 2021, back in January, was of two limited-edition variants on their two biggest brands: Yamazaki Limited Edition 2021 and Hibiki Blossom Harmony 2021. They were both released on May 25 and sold out almost immediately everywhere. There are allegedly 30,000 of each of these kicking around. They both had RRPs of ¥8800 (after tax, around €67 or $80), but now grace auction sites for 10x that.
Our focus here is the Hibiki Blossom Harmony.
Coldorak’s Note: today we welcome a guest author, Mac aka Kanpai Planet, who does Youtube reviews of Japanese whiskies and other Japanese drinks on his Youtube channel. Yōkoso!
We’re back for another Walsh WhiskeyTweet Tasting, yay! Last year’s one was a really good one, with drams going from good to reaaally good. So what did they have for us in store for this year? Let’s find out what they brought for this Walsh Whiskey Tweet Tasting 2021. And if you want to know more about Walsh Whiskey’s history, go read my article from last year, then come back here to have a few drams with me.