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Alongside whisky and shochu, the Hombo company that owns Mars Whisky also produces wine, so it is perhaps no surprise that they have created a wine cask matured whisky. The spirit was initially aged in a combination of Sherry, Bourbon and American White Oak casks, before a finish in wine barrels. This dram is named after Kiichiro Iwai, known as Japanese whisky’s silent pioneer.
Found at a higher altitude than most Japanese distilleries, the Mars Shinshu distillery enjoys a milder climate, closer to that of Scotland or Ireland, which is perfect for long maturation of spirit.
The distillery also has access to a source of extremely pure water – something that is always highly valued by whisky-makers.
This bottling contains a combination of malt and grain spirit, blended together in the traditional Japanese manner, with the end result a well balanced and complex whisky. The spirit was aged in casks from Hombo Shōchū’s very own Chateau Mars wine.
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A fresh, fruity note greets the drinker, with flavours of fresh blackcurrants, grapes, and black cherries, followed by some plum pudding, oak and toasted cereals.
Fuller than the nose would suggest – the fruits turning jammy and stewed here, and more intense flavours of vanilla, light meadow flowers, cinnamon, nutmeg and bittersweet dark chocolate.
Medium in length, and offering supple, lasting flavours of drying oak, summer berries, vanilla custard, wine tannins and burnt brown sugar. An impressive drop.