Togouchi - Japanese whisky from Scotland and Canada
This is quite unique, Japanese whisky made in Scotland and Canada. I better explain, I think. Back in 1918 the company Chugoku Jozo was established near the city of Hiroshima, Japan. They are mainly a producer of sake and shochu. In 1990 they decided to add whisky to their range of products. However, they were not to distill the whisky themselves. Instead they started sourcing malt whisky from Scotland and grain whisky from Canada. The maturation and blending is then performed by the master blender at Chugoku Jozo. So what do you call this whisky? Is it Scotch, Canadian, Japanese, world whisky? Well, apparently it is sold as Japanese whisky, as the whisky is 'naturalized' when the company pays taxes and completes the import to Japan.
The story gets stranger still though. The maturation is done in an abandoned railway tunnel. The 361 meter long tunnel was drilled in 1970 by JR Japanese railway company, in order to expand the line up from Kabe to Hamada in Shimane. The project never came to reality and the tunnel was left unused. Until Chugoku Jozo found an alternative use for it, that is. They say it has ideal conditions for aging shochu and whisky with a constant temperature of 14 degrees Celsius and a humidity of 80 %.
That is enough intro, time to taste the whiskies.
Togouchi Premium, 8 YO, 40 %
Nose (21/25): Very soft, sweet and mild. Lots of vanilla notes and powdered sugar. Mild sherry notes and a hint of smoke. Soft exotic spices and nuts as well. Over all it is very soft.
Taste (17/25): Sweet and light at first, then a massive wave of bitter oaky notes attack the taste buds.
Finish (18/25): Slightly bitter. A bit thin mouth feel. Caramel and white sugar.
Balance (18/25): Reminds me of an unremarkable Canadian blend. Could that be the grain pushing through, dominating the blend?
Togouchi 12 YO, 43 %
Nose (21/25): More fruits than the first one, and it is a bit richer in general. There's a lot more going on. Medium peated - sweet wood smoke. A bit dry.
Taste (20/25): Peaty, sugary and peppery. Dark chocolate. Again the mouth feel is a bit of the thin side. I would have liked a bit more body.
Finish (19/25): Medium long, with peat and white sugar dominating. The dry, dark chocolate does build a little body.
Balance (20/25): Better than the Premium. The peaty notes adds something extra.
Togouchi 18 YO, 43 %
Available in Norway at NOK 1350 (item number 1818101),and in Sweden at SEK 1251 (item number 87918).
Nose (21/25): More similar to the Premium than the peated 12 YO on the nose. More fruity than the Premium, but otherwise very similar. Lots of vanilla and soft sherry notes. A mild whiff of smoke in the background, maybe.
Taste (19/25): Oily and fruity, but first and foremost it has a lot of tannins, it is very oaky. Lots of perfume as well, and some caramel.
Finish (19/25): Massive oak, as if it was a lot older than 18 years old. Like chewing on a piece of newly cut wood, still covered with fresh sawdust. Bitter and herbal. Medium length and warmth.
Some facts here are sourced from japanese-whisky.com. Images from http://www.uisuki.com/.
Sláinte! - Thomas