...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Shinshu Mars 12 year old 1992 single cask 1124

Okay, I'm back. I think.

Just to protect my innards, I'm consuming the 1992 (bottled at 43%abv) before the 1989 (a cask strength 58%abv). This works nicely because the 1992 has the same age, cask type and ABV as last Tuesday's 1986 single cask.

Though it was bottled exclusively for the Shinanoya shops, this release represents only half of the cask's contents. The other half was bottled for Espoa, at the same age and strength. (Curiously, the whiskybase grades for these two are quite different: see here and here.)

If you're in Tokyo, I recommend stopping by one of the Shinanoya stores. Their prices can be a bit high sometimes, but there's usually an impressive selection of whiskies from both Asian and European indie bottlers. As for Shinanoya's recent exclusive single casks, I've had only one but it was a whisky that wove tales that I'm not sure how to tell.

Because the 12yo Shinshu sherry cask from last Tuesday was so excellent, my expectations are up for this Martian.


Brand: Mars
Distillery: Shinshu
Ownership: Hombo Shuzo Co. Ltd.
Region: Japan, Nagano Prefecture
Age: 12 years (1992-2004)
Maturation: Spanish oak sherry butt
Cask #: 1124
Bottled for: Shinanoya
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
(from a purchased sample)

Its color is a deeper gold than the '86, but not nearly as dark as the above picture illustrates.

The nose is full of lovely almond things (cookies, extract, marzipan, etc.). There are also notes of orange oil, Carpano Antica and wet sand. My groovy Armagnac cherries (which I need to make again). Soft grape and raisin notes. A hint of milk chocolate.

The palate has a gorgeous herbal bitterness. Dates, figs and a lot of funky honey. Campari, lemon peel and a hint of dunnage. The whole thing has a cask strength intensity.

It finishes earthy and herbal, with not much sweetness. Dried fruit essences. Hints of dunnage and citrus peels.

While this whisky's charms are mostly due its cask, that was one heck of a cask. It's like Kavalan's sherry cask whiskies, but better, because Kavalan doesn't slug like this at 43%abv. In fact, it's tough to find any sherried whiskies at 12yo/43%abv with the richness of these first two Shinshus. How on Earth did they do this?

Availability - Secondary market, if you're lucky
Pricing - sold for £180 and £330 at auctions in the past twelve months, so who knows
Rating - 88