The Schtick: This was a blind sample that was sent to me. I reviewed it live on the Whiskey Network Discord server, then got the reveal in order to fill in relevant details here.
“Kaiyō whisky is matured in the finest Japanese Mizunara oak casks. These casks are handmade due to Mizunara oak’s delicate wood grain. They are among the rarest casks in the world and are considered the finest in which to mature whisky. After years of maturing our casks go on a final maturation at sea voyage for up to 3 months, leaving from Osaka Japan” – Kaiyo Website
“Kaiyo is a negotiant bottler started by a drinks group led by former Asahi employee Mr. Watanabe. He was able to purchase “teaspooned” malt whisky barrels from an unnamed Japanese whisky supplier via his connections in the industry (“teaspooning” is when a distiller adds a teaspoon of another whisky into the barrel before selling it, thus preventing the purchaser from claiming it as a single malt from that distillery). The whiskies are purchased as teaspooned new make (unaged distillates) and then put into Japanese Mizunara oak barrels from Ariake, considered one of the best manufacturers in the world (each new Mizunara barrel costs between $6500 – $7500). For those unfamiliar with the legend of Japanese Mizunara oak, it’s become heralded in the whisky world both for the exotic flavors of incense, sandalwood, and coconut it passes along to the spirit as well as its expense. Difficult to cooper and notoriously inefficient as a vessel, editions of Yamazaki and Bowmore aged in Mizunara wood have sold at four figure prices, making the Kaiyo whiskies in comparison seem like a steal.” – KLWines
Distiller: Unnamed Japanese Distiller
ABV: 43% ABV
Nose: Sulfur, apples, pears, clove, faint oak. Vanilla, musty funk.
Taste: Thin, no heat, pears, apples, vanilla, pepper, mild sulfur. Mildly lactic, sour.
Finish: Medium, hot, bitter, and sour fruits. Malty, mild pepper.
Overall + Guess: This wasn’t super enjoyable, mostly because I found the sour fruit notes to be a bit off putting. The palate was thin, the finish was a hair hot, but it had a lovely nose. Almost like a cheese and fruit tray at a winery. I’m going to guess that this is a Scotch whisky, this whiskey is 12-14 years old, it is bottled at 46% ABV and is primarily aged in ex-bourbon. If there is any wine finishing, it is extremely short.
Reveal: Kaiyo Mizunara Cask Japanese Whisky. Interesting. I had heard of this but had not seen or tried until now. The nose was easily the best part.
Thanks for reading!