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Mars Whisky is out-of-this-world good. A small batch single malt whisky distilled in Japan, from peated Scottish barley. This bottling contains a combination of single malt spirits distilled in 2016 and 2017, and aged in former Bourbon barrels until 2020, when this batch was bottled. Mars is a relatively recent addition to Japanese distilling, having only reopened in 2011.
Minamisatsuma, Kagoshima, Japan
This whisky has been distilled at Mars's second active distillery – Tsunuki, which is found in Minamisatsuma City, Kagoshima, South Japan. Tsunuki is actually Mars's fourth distillery in their history, though two of those are now closed. Kagoshima is an important area for this company – they had previously operated a distillery here, and it was also the region where Hombo Shuzo, Mars's parent company, was first founded.
This bottling is only the second release from the distillery, following the aptly named "The First" Tsunuki release. Unlike Shinsu Mars distillery, Tsunuki has a warm climate, making a very different spirit. This high quality dram is an exciting sign of things to come from the new producer.
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Instantly peaty, though softer than some of its Scottish counterparts. Rich stone fruit aromas join in, followed by toasted malt, bright oak and sweet cereal notes.
More peat here, counterbalanced by creamed honey, apples and pears. With time, new oak, vanilla custard and wafer biscuits notes emerge. Vivid and spritely.
Short, but nevertheless enjoyable, with flashes of peat smoke, charred oak, drying malt and some subtle citrus rind. An intriguing whisky.