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31 May 2019 By

Time to Drink a Good Japanese Whisky That Isn’t Hibiki, Karuizawa or That Overpriced Award-Winning One.

We tasted some Iwai whiskies, and we liked most of it. In particular we liked the Iwai Tradition Whisky, and and the 2019 Komagatake Double Cellars Single Whisky. But what we like most are its prices. Because Japanese whiskies.


iwai whisky japan

The Iwai Japanese (40% ABV) is named after the silent pioneer of Japanese whisky, Kiichiro Iwai, and is inspired by the great whiskies of America. The majority of corn is balanced with light malt aged in ex bourbon barrels. This is your no pretense gateway to the small world of Iwai. The peaty and floral Iwai Tradition (40% ABV) is malt-driven blend that reflects contemporary Japanese whisky. It’s aged in a combination of ex sherry, bourbon, and wine casks. Its spicy character makes it ideal for an Old Fashioned. The honeyed and subtle Mars Maltage Cosmo (43% ABV) is named for one of the mountains of the Japanese Central Alps, Mt. Kosumoyama. Mars Maltage Cosmo is a blended malt featuring whiskies from both Scottish distilleries and Mar’s Shinshu distillery. I like its smokiness.

Now we’re talking: the Single Malt Komagatake Ltd Edt 2018 (48% ABV) features Japanese single malt whisky matured in ex bourbon barrels and American white oak cask for a minimum of three years at the Shinshu distillery, this is the 2018 annual release under Mars’ premium malt whisky line Komagatake (it’s been limited edition since 2013.) It has hints of plum and peat, is filled with complex and rich flavours, and has a long graceful finish.

Fun Facts:

  • Mars Whisky is the third most prominent whisky maker after Yamazaki and Nikka.
  • Located in the Central Japanese Alps of Nagano Prefecture, 798 metres above sea level, the distillery’s high altitude and frigid temperatures as low as -15°C encourages slow maturation. The availability of soft granite filtered water also led to the change in style of the whisky Mars was producing.
  • Hombo Shuzo Co. Ltd obtained the whisky distilling license in 1949, but it was only in 1960 that its distillation plant in Yamanashi was established under the direction of Iwai to produce wine and whisky.
  • The Yamanashi plant concentrated on making wine while the whisky distilling equipment was transferred to the newly-built Shinshu distillery at the foot of Mt. Komagatake in 1985.
  • Production was halted in 1992 due to the drop in demand for whisky and restarted in 2011, although the remaining whisky stock was kept for intermittent releases, like the Komagatake 10.

Now you know.

Mars Whisky is now available in bars like Anti:dote, Neon Pigeon, The Winery Tapas Bar, and Wheeler’s Estate, ranging S$140-S$160 for the Iwai Japanese and S$190-S$220 for the Iwai Tradition. Mars Whisky is distributed by Barworks Wine & Spirit: www.barworks.com.sg.​