1 Sep 2013

Isawa 10 year old: 'Tasting is believing!'

I won a pack of Japanese whiskies the other month and included was a 5cl of this Isawa, a ten year old Japanese Malt. I'd never heard of it before and google didn't turn up much either. As far as I can tell Monde Shuzo, the distiller, is primarily a wine maker who dabbled in whisky for a while. Only their blended malt is available in the UK, with the 10 year old available on Whiskybase for about £35 for 50cl.

Have I stumbled across a hidden gem of a Japanese whisky? Alas no..

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Nose:- Right from the beginning this is unlike anything I can remember tasting.

Intense sawdust notes compete for your attention with something that smells an awful lot like paint remover.

Slightly acrid and strawy this smells a bit like a rabbit hutch. A rabbit hutch that hasn't been cleaned for a long time. Some ammonia.. bleugh.

Lurking behind this is some vanilla, grain, some leather and quite an amount of star anise.

Taste:- It really follows on form the unusual nose with the grassy, sawdusty character asserting itself , but with blast of sweetness and a hint of woody smoke.

Finish:- It doesn't remain sweet for long. It fades swiftly and says farewell by leaving an overwhelming  imprint of sour star anise.
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I must admit this is the first dram in a long, long time that I haven't managed to finish. Rabbit hutch, paint stripper.. no thank you.

This seems to be a relatively rare whisky, the distillery appears to be finished and at 10 years of age it's not like they didn't try.. but this is pretty vile stuff. I'll take soem NAS Balcones any day thanks.

I've about 30ml of this left.. if anyone wants it when I'm back in Britain they're more than welcome.

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