From the Kurayoshi distillery in Tottori prefecture by way of a wonderful birthday present comes The Matsui Single Malt Mizunara Oak Cask Japanese Whisky.
Oak, the staple of whisky barrels, is known for tall, straight trees. Mizuna oak, however, doesn’t grow straight, and can take up to 200 years to grow enough to contribute to a cask. “Water oak” leaks and loses about 7% of its volume to pores, knots, bends and evaporation. So it’s kind of a pain in the ass but it’s all Japanese whisky makers had to work with in post-war reconstruction.
Why stick with the material now that they can get “regular” American oak barrels? Well, Mizunara is a type of Mongolian oak. Mongolian oak offers a specific Flavono-ellagitannin (that’s a flavanoid and a tannin smooshed together) called mongolicin A & B. Tannins are made up of phenols and that’s what gives whisky its flavour, and that gives Mizunara cask whisky a distinctive and sought-after taste.
Out of the barrel it’s mixed with water from Mount Daisen, a local volcano. But not much, as it’s offered at 48.1% abv. Here’s some notes:
nose – salted apple toffee, maybe soy
neat – sharp, straight to the back of the throat, fire on the way down.
finish – campfire at night in a cabin by the sea. minutes later i still feel vaguely punched in the throat. chest warmth and oak.
splash – calm and centres. slight spice on tongue and mellow chest heat. slight candy sweet
overall – 8.3/10
The Matsui Single Malt Mizunara Cask Japanese Whisky – 48.1% 700ml – $ – Tottori
Try it? Yes, definitely. Buy it? If you can find it.