Just because a label reads “Japanese whisky”, the spirit inside the bottle must not necessarily come from Japan – at least not entirely. Since the land of the rising sun has rather loose regulations in this regard, nothing hinders local producers to add imported malt or grain to their distillate and still call it a “Japanese whisky”. In the case of Mars’ annual Komagatake bottlings, however, there is no such lack of transparency and exactitude. Every drop that goes into these limited editions got distilled and matured on Japanese soil. Mars Komagatake 2018, which I am reviewing here, got produced – and if I am not mistaken also stored – at Mars Shinshu Distillery. The unit fell silent from 1992 and 2011. But it got revived in the meantime and has now been back in action for almost ten years. Despite its youth, Mars Komagatake 2018 is mellow, rounded and balanced; a profile that is highly popular among Japanese distillers, who aspire to reach a perfect equilibrium in their spirits. Flavorwise, the whisky is full of vanilla, pastry, fruits and spices. When I had it in a tasting a few months back, I liked it so much that I took it home. After revisiting it, I am really happy about the decision I made back then!
Eye: Sunshine in the glass. The rays (i.e. legs) are lean and swift.
Nose: The nose is clean and softened with a good vivacity. It opens with big chunks of vanilla, citrus and yellow plums. Addionally, there are grapes, bananas and peaches spread on a fluffy base of half-baked flake pastry. On top of all, there is a generous spoonful of fresh, natural yogurt garnished with white pepper corns and ginger graters.
Palate: The well-rounded whisky feels substantial and weighty in the mouth. It offers a lot of meaty fruits like papayas and kakis alongside mead, cake and tea. Besides the mentioned fruitiness, there is also a noticable sweetness, a milky creaminess and a jaunty spiciness. The latter puts a lotta sparks on the tongue.
Finish: Spicy! But still soft and sweet. The farewell flavors include fresh oak, ovenwarm pastry, zesty citrus, light grapes, crunchy pears and – as in the nose – pepper and ginger.
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Cask: Bourbon barrels & Am. white oak casks
Alc. volume: 48 per cent
Bottle size: 0.7 litres
Price range: ~105.00 Euro
More info: https://www.hombo.co.jp/company/kura/shinshu.html (Distillery) ; https://kirschwhisky.de/ (Importer)