...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Shizuoka 3 year old 2017, cask 2017-026 for Hasegawasaketen

Gaia Flow created something a bit different in Shizuoka distillery. Unlike most Japanese whisky distillers, some of their barley is sourced from local farmers. Inspired by sake production, the owners had several washbacks fashioned from local cedar trees. Their wash still is wood-fired, and somehow they acquired an old Karuizawa still which functions as one of their spirit stills. Clearly, Shizuoka aims for their own specific style.

But what will it be? The distillery started production in late 2016, and their oldest single malt is about five years old now, so unless they've discovered some sort of Chichibu-type miracle, plenty of time needs to pass to see how the whisky develops.

Today I'm opening my lone Shizuoka sample, a single bourbon cask bottled for Hasegawasaketen, a six-shop sake/liquor retailer in Tokyo. Its spirit was distilled using the Karuizawa spirit still and the wood-fired wash still (denoted as KS + WS on the bottle label).

Distillery: Shizuoka
Location: wait for it..........Shizuoka, Shizuoka, Japan
Ownership: Gaia Flow
Age: 3 years (18 Nov 2017 - 27 Apr 2021)
Maturation: bourbon cask
Cask #: 2017-026
Outturn: 263 bottles
Exclusive to: Hasegawasaketen
Alcohol by Volume: 51.6%
(from a bottle split)


It has a simple crisp nose. Honey over apples, bananas, and lemon slices. Pinot Grigio, and a hint of dijon mustard. The palate starts of with barley and pears. A little of lemon juice and honey. Witbier, kirsch, and a mineral hint. It's very sweet and new, right through the finish, where there's pear brandy, rock candy, and a lemon shady. (Sorry, not sorry.)

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose still has that light Pinot Grigio fruitiness with a touch of minerals. Subtler notes of shortbread, white chocolate, and mint extract linger in the background. The palate is simply marshmallows, barley, and ginger ale, and the finish shows the same.


Though quite decent for a three-year-old whisky, this Shizuoka is still but a three-year-old whisky. Plenty of bright fruits appear in the nose, while beer, eau de vie, and sugar ripple throughout palate. It's thankfully free of vodka and ethyl notes, though I wonder if the low (for 3yo whisky) ABV has something to do with that.

While I appreciate the distillery's technical measures, it's difficult to divine anything about their future from a three-year-old whisky. Though I would normally grouse further about such a young release, this single malt reads fully-matured compared to the subject of my next review.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 82