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Monday, March 5, 2018

Mission: Mars. Two weeks of Shinshu whisky!

Plenty of digital ink has been spilt over Suntory's and Nikka's whiskies on this blog and others. Chichibu's single malt has garnered raves from everyone who can afford a bottle of the magical baby whisky. And then there are the Japanese whiskies that are actually sorta kinda Scotch whiskies that have left plenty of people a grumpy shade of nonplussed.

All that noise covers up the fact that there are other functioning Japanese whisky distilleries. Some of which produce quality products. One of these active facilities is Shinshu distillery.
Photo by whiskymizuwari
Hombo Spirits, who also produce shochu and plum wine, have taken a few swings at whisky production:

  • Yamanashi Distillery: opened 1960, closed 1969
  • Kagoshima Distillery: opened 1978, closed 1984
  • Shinshu Distillery: opened 1985, closed 1992
  • Shinshu Distillery: opened 2011
  • Tsunuki Distillery: opened 2016
While you may not have heard these names before, the Hombo distilleries' whisky brand name might just be familiar — Mars.

Located in the Japanese Alps, Shinshu is the highest distillery in Japan, a full 400 feet up from its neighbor, Hakushu. Shinshu produces four distillates, with peat levels of 0ppm, 3.5ppm, 20ppm and 50ppm.
Photo by Spirits Business
Hombo opened Tsunuki distillery (Japan's southernmost whisky facility) in 2016 and intends to have a single malt ready for Tokyo's 2020 Summer Olympics. Though the Tsunuki produces the same four distillates as Shinshu, it (and its warehouses) are near sea level and experience warmer weather.

Thanks to a set of samples sold by Whiskybase Shop, I'll be taking a little tour of Mars. I'll start with a few sips from Shinshu's first era, then gradually proceed to more current offerings. My Martian experience is limited, so this is a great Opportunity to satisfy my Curiosity about whether there is life on Mars.

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