Kaiyo Mizunara Oak Japanese Whisky 750ml
Kaiyo is a negotiant bottler started by a drinks group led by former Asahi employee Mr. Watanabe. He was able to purchase "teaspooned" malt whisky barrels from an unnamed Japanese whisky supplier via his connections in the industry ("teaspooning" is when a distiller adds a teaspoon of another whisky into the barrel before selling it, thus preventing the purchaser from claiming it as a single malt from that distillery). The whiskies are purchased as teaspooned new make (unaged distillates) and then put into Japanese Mizunara oak barrels from Ariake, considered one of the best manufacturers in the world (each new Mizunara barrel costs between $6500 - $7500). For those unfamiliar with the legend of Japanese Mizunara oak, it's become heralded in the whisky world both for the exotic flavors of incense, sandalwood, and coconut it passes along to the spirit as well as its expense. Difficult to cooper and notoriously inefficient as a vessel, editions of Yamazaki and Bowmore aged in Mizunara wood have sold at four figure prices, making the Kaiyo whiskies in comparison seem like a steal. You get an exotic note of tea and faint orange peel on the nose of the standard Kaiyo edition, but the soft and rather delicate palate brings more of the vanilla and oak character. The spices come out on the finish with lots of pepper and oolong. It's very Japanese in its restraint, graceful from front to back without any serious peaks or valleys.