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Akkeshi, Hokkaidō, Japan
One of a few recent additions to the Japanese distilling scene, Akkeshi first opened in 2016. The distillery cut its teeth with a handful of smaller “malt spirit” bottling, before releasing its first proper whiskies in 2020. This dram is the first in a new series, which will celebrate the 24 Sekki, or traditional Solar Seasons of Japan.
Akkeshi Distillery is said to be based upon whisky producers in Scotland’s Islay region. Akkeshi features two traditional pot stills, and a set up not unlike distilleries at “the Queen of the Hebrides”. The distillery maintains four warehouses: two on site, and another two found close to the shoreline, with Akkeshi monitoring to see what effect each location has on the aging spirit.
This particular single malt was mostly produced in 2017, and after a maturation in an array of casks, bottled in 2020. An excellent rendition of the peated Japanese style.
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A rush of maritime peat, with sea spray and kelp, opens the nose of this dram. Lemon rind, strawberries and a little smoked pineapple emerge later, joined by a little fragrant vanilla.
A light body, featuring an elegant wisp of peat smoke, which gives way to reveal black pepper, dark chocolate, burnt malt, salted caramel, smoked meat and some strawberry jam.
Long, lingering, with the overall impression one of a barbeque at the beach. A little salted caramel and oaky sweetness lends balance.