One interesting element of Japanese whiskies is a unique hint of sandalwood and coconut, which is often attributed to Mizunara, a porous oak almost exclusively used by Japanese distillers. Ergo, no journey into the world of Japanese whiskies is complete without some form of exploration of whiskey matured in this intriguing cask. However it is somewhat difficult to find bottlings of spirit that have been matured exclusively in Mizunara, so when it does come appear, price and availability always winds up as a big question mark of uncertainty.
The 2014 release of the Yamazaki Mizunara Cask is a NAS (No age statement) whiskey with an AVB of 48%, limited to 1,600 bottles and to people willing to pay a princely ¥25,000 (approximately S$300, sans tax) for a NAS whiskey. Is it a worthwhile buy, or a shrewdly calculated gamble by the marketing department? Nobody knows yet, but Japanese whiskies have had a decent track record for quality thus far, so chances are it can’t be all that bad.
The Mizunara Cask 2014 is however, a domestic release (Japan only), set to be available on 22 April, meaning that you will have to hunt tooth and nail for it if you are interested. Besides physically buying it in Japan itself, one possibility is to make an enquiry to the local office of La Maison Du Whisky. They’re an international outfit with enough buying power to perhaps score a limited number of bottles. Alternatively, you can check out Liquors Hasegawa, a great whisky shop located in the Yaesu Shopping Mall, Tokyo. Last I checked, they do ship to Singapore. Good service, a decent range, and reasonably priced.
With worldwide demand for scotch whiskies at a high, Japanese whiskies too, have become highly sought after. So much so that giants Suntory, owners of the popular Yamazaki and Hakushu whiskies, added new stills over the past year to keep pace with global demand. Prices for the Yamazaki 18 and Hakushu 18 have been driven up beyond the S$300 mark – rather amazing when you consider that the average price for 18 year old whiskies is below S$200. Their standard 12 year old whiskies, while pricier than their Scottish equivalents, are still relatively affordable.
Yamazaki Mizunara Cask (2014 release)
Maker: Yamazaki (Suntory)
Spirit: Whiskey, matured in Japanese oak (Mizunara) casks
Alcohol by Volume: 48%