Shinshu Mars Distillery Iwai Blended Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Kiichiro Iwai, the namesake for this Mars Whisky, was for many, the "quiet" pioneer of the Japanese whisky industry. It was Mr. Iwai who built the brand "Hombo Brewing" (Hombo Shuzo) as well as providing the instructions for whisky production there. He was Masataka Taketsuru’s immediate superior at the turn of the century and was responsible for sending Taketsuru (of Nikka fame) to Scotland in 1919 to learn how whisky was produced. The Shinshu distillery (aka "Mars"), founded in 1985 and in operation from 1985-1992 and then 2011 to present is actually Hombo Shuzo's third domestic distillery. The previous have been the Yamanashi Distillery (1960-1969) and the Mars Kagoshima Distillery (1978-1984).
This release is inspired by the great whiskies of America, being produced using a majority of corn balanced with light malt and aged in ex bourbon barrels. Ideal for daily sipping, in a mint julep or an old fashioned. The nose offers hints of spiced pear, then sweeter, richer Bourbonesque aromas of caramel, vanilla and clove. The Bourbon character comes through on the palate too - quite delicate on entry, building with grilled corn and orange zest rounded off with a lovely burst of baking spices and minty freshness which suggest some rye input here - or some very active Bourbon casks - or both. Overall lighter than most Kentucky styles, but a very convincing homage nonetheless. 40% Alc./Vol.