...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Shinshu Mars 3 year old 2013 Tsunuki Aging, cask 5108

The Mission: Mars whiskies thus far:

Tsunuki distillery, opened by Hombo Spirits in 2016, was built at sea level on the Kagoshima coast, far from its sibling distillery, Shinshu, up in the Japanese Alps. Hombo established some warehouse space near Tsunuki before the distillery was complete, and has been maturing some casks there.

More on this in the next post. Right now lemme see how this 3 year old — distilled at Shinshu — fares after spending its life near the sea, as opposed to on the mountaintop.

Brand: Mars
Distillery: Shinshu
Ownership: Hombo Shuzo Co. Ltd.
Distillation Region: Japan, Nagano Prefecture
Maturation Region: Japan, Kagoshima Prefecture
Age: 3 years (September 2013 - February 2017)
Maturation: ex-bourbon barrel
Peat level: ???
Cask #: 5108
Bottles: 210
Bottled for: Yamakataya
Alcohol by Volume: 58%
(from a purchased sample)

Its color is light gold, though it's darker than the previous 3yos I reviewed. The nose frames everything with light sugary peat. Apple-y calvados, lychee gummy candy, vanilla, soil and brine sit in the middle. The palate is HAWT. Jeez. It's fruity, though. Sweet white fruits and very tart berries. Puckeringly tart. Ocean water (don't drink ocean water, people) and cinnamon. More salt than peat, really. Lots of ethyl heat in the finish, as well. It's mostly salt, bitterness and char.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv
Ah, the nose is very pretty, all fruits and flowers. Bananas, plums and apples. The palate is much more approachable at this strength. Pepper, salt and sugar. Pears and vanilla. Donut glaze. Not much peat. Some of the pears remain in the warm, peppery, sweet finish.

I'm sensing a theme here. Three consecutive 3 year old peated whiskies that all smell and taste like 3 year old peated whiskies, no matter where they've matured. This is the hottest of the three, but once diluted down to 46%abv, it's the best of the trio. While the nose has its delights, the whisky's palate (like the previous two) is limited by its youth. As I've said before, I'd be interested in tasting this stuff when it hits eight years old. At that point, I wouldn't doubt if it gives Hakushu a run for its money. Speaking of money, this thing is priced all over the map (as it were).

Availability - Japan, Europe and USA
Pricing - Japan: around $80 if you can find it; Europe: $200ish; USA: $200-$250
Rating - 81 (with water only)