Category Archives: News

Nikka Whisky – Coming to the US

Nikka Whisky is finally making its way to the US.   It is projected that the whisky will be launched some time in November of this year through Anchor Distilling Co. here in San Francisco.  Most people have already heard, but I think that it is worth mentioning here as it is very significant not only in terms of Japanese whisky but all whisky.  I am always bitching and moaning about how we barely get any Japanese whisky here – there are really only four expressions available from Suntory right now (Yamazaki 12, 18, Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 12).  This is a mere sliver of the total expressions that Japanese distillers actually produce.  I am ecstatic that Nikka will now finally be launched here to add to the selection of Japanese malts.  Initially Nikka is releasing the Taketsuru 12 (a pure malt) and the Yoichi 15.  If you are not familiar with Nikka Whisky, we posted a quick history here.  I was also lucky enough to visit the Yoichi distillery and posted by experiences here.

Unfortunately I don’t have any of the Taketsuru 12 or Yoichi 15 around right now to sample but I did have the Yoichi 12:

Color:  Medium brown/copper

Nose:  Text book Yoichi – coastal, smoke, rutty, earthy and musky, some light apple hiding underneath it all, a sweet and dark baking spice mixture, pumpkin bread, wisps of eucalyptus and menthol.

Palate:  Briney, decomposing vegetation, surprising alcohol prickliness (for 45%ABV) but not overwhelming, mushrooms, peat, muskiness is very evident, slightly ashy, the malt starts to make its presence known towards the end, some sweet spiced bread/cake, oily.  With water it gets sweeter and loses some of the mouth-feel, cleaner and not as rutty.

Finish:  Medium, ash, dark spices.

This is one of my favorite whiskies.  If it was available here it would be one of my favorite everyday sippers.  It is not as big as the Yoichi 15 but it holds its own and is at a lot better price point.  I believe it was less than $50 last time I got a bottle at duty free in Narita.


Filed under News, Nikka

Whisky Pairing Dinner in San Francisco

An interesting an unique whisky pairing here in San Francisco that we caught wind of.  It sounds like a tasty (both whisky and food wise) event.  I am not sure if I am going to make it but I am going to try.  – Chris

Thirsty Bear
Tuesday, Oct 16, 6:00pm
661 Howard St., San Francisco
$65 All inclusive

RSVP and pay


The ThirstyBear presents a contemporary and seasonal approach to traditional Spanish tapas. Utilizing local organic and seasonal products as much as possible and working with local farms causes frequent changes in the menu at ThirstyBear. Well known as a great place for beer, it is also a convenient place to enjoy a dram.

Chef Laurance Gorden has put together a delectable six course menu to pair with our exquisite whiskies for the evening.

The Whiskies:

Reception Cocktail

Isle of Skye 12yr
Arran 10yr
Arran 14yr
Arran Finish Sauternes
Arran Finish Amarone
Kilchoman Machir Bay
Miltonduff 22 yr Cask Strength 55.1%

The Menu:

Smoked oyster, celery root

Arugula, fennel, and cranberry salad

Red trout, peppers and garlic

House made Butifarra sausage, white beans, mustard greens

Selection of three cheeses, mixed nuts, spent grain bread

Dark chocolate espresso mousse

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The Fall 2012 Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza

It is that time of the year again for our larger whisky tasting events.  I have attended the SMWSA’s Whisky Extravaganzas for the past couple of years.

Please see the SMWSA’s formal invitation:

Ladies and Gentlemen are cordially invited to enjoy a connoisseur’s evening featuring rare & exceptional single malt, Scotch and unique whiskies from around the world. The evening includes a delicious dinner buffet as well as a selection of premium imported cigars for our guests’ later enjoyment. The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza brings the discerning enthusiast the opportunity to sample the participating whiskies in a sophisticated and elegant environment with genuine camaraderie and knowledgeable representatives from each participating distillery.

All events from 7:00pm-9:00pm. Registration begins at 7:00pm. Business casual, Jackets preferred. No denim or athletic attire.


Chicago:  October 18, 2012, The Union League Club of Chicago, 65 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604

Washington, DC: October 30, 2012, JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20004

Philadelphia:  November 1, 2012, The Union League Club of Philadelphia, 140 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Los Angeles:  November 9, 2012, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401

San Francisco:  November 14, 2012, The Intercontinental San Francisco, 888 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Seattle:  November 16, 2012, The Rainier Club, 820 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104

Fort Lauderdale:  December 6, 2012, The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314

Ticket Prices:  Members tickets to the Extravaganza are $135.00 each and non-member guest tickets are $150.00 each.  Readers of the WhiskyWall will receive the members’ price at $135.00 each, when you use the promotional code: “WW2012”.

You can purchase tickets directly on the web here or you can call (800) 990-1991.

 * I am planning on attending the San Francisco event, thanks to the SMWSA.  Hope to see some of you there! – Chris

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A Couple of New Glenfiddich Expressions

The core Glenfiddich range – a very solid and tasty range at that – of what appeals to the general whisky drinking population remains the same. Thankfully no drastic measures are being taken like eliminating age statements or any nonsense like that. Instead, Glenfiddich released a pair of new whiskies that should peak the interests of those that are more than just the casual whisky drinkers.

The first new release is the Malt Master’s Edition. As the name suggests, this release is a nod to Glenfiddich’s Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. What makes this release unique for Glenfiddich is that it is double matured. The Malt Master’s Edition is composed of whisky that was aged 6-8 years is ex-Bourbon casks and then aged an additional 4-6 years in Sherry casks.

On the nose I got a lot more of the sherry influence. But on the palate more of the bourbon casks came through in the spices, vanilla and cherry flavors. This whisky nicely walks the line of smooth but lively. Coming in at 43%ABV this formerly distillery only release will be available in the US this month at a reasonable $80.

The second release is definitely a lot more rarefied: the 1974 Vintage Reserve.  There is a vintage released annually but this is the first time that the whisky is a vatting of casks.  This is a vatting of both Sherry and Bourbon casks all from 1974 (guaranteed 36 years old).  There were only 1,000 bottles made available worldwide and only 35 allocated for the US market.  The brand ambassadors helped to select this vintage by converging on the distillery and sampling whiskies from 1973, 1974 and 1975.  The hands down winner of the sampling was the whisky from 1974. 

The 1974 Vintage Reserve comes in at 46.8% ABV and has a very lively nose – and not just for its age.  I got a lot of pears that I usually associate with Glenfiddich as well as some tropical fruits.  With the addition of water I picked up a little more oak influence as well as a nice earthiness, almost rutty.  A very beautiful whisky, unfortunately it is extremely limited and out of the price range for most of us.


Filed under Glenfiddich, News

Suntory Yamazaki 2012 Limited Cask Collection

Just a quick note that Suntory’s Yamazaki Limited Cask Collection for this year will soon be released. The three expressions are: Sherry Cask, Puncheon and Bourbon Barrel. These NAS whiskies come in at 48% ABV and are priced between 8,180 and 8,380 Yen or about $105 given our current crappy exchange rate. They will be available for sale at Sake Brutus on September 25.

The Sherry Cask usually gets all the love (arguably as it should) but from the 2011 series I really really liked the Bourbon Barrel.

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Chichibu Newborn Cask Number 23

This Newborn was aged for a whopping 6 months in a new American oak hogshead. Dispite all of the grief craft distillers are getting here in the US for releasing young whiskies, I have enjoyed all of the Newborn releases that I have tried so far: Heavily Peated, Double Matured and Mizunara Cask.

This Newborn can currently be found at Liquors Hasegawa in Tokyo Station.

Stats of this Newborn are as follows:
Cask In: April 2008
Bottled: October 2008
Cask: New American Oak Hogshead
ABV: 62.9%
Price: 4,800 Yen

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Shinanoya Does It Again…

*Image taken from Shinanoya’s Facebook Page*

Well at least they are going to on July 26.  As we all know Karuizawa bottels are getting harder and harder to find these days.  And surprisingly even more so in Japan.  Shinanoya who’s The Game Hanyu bottling I loved is releasing their private cask bottling of Karuizawa on July 26.  You can get a preview taste of it at the Osaka Whisky Festival on July 15.

1995 Karuizawa 16 y/o 12,900 Yen
Shinanoya Private Cask 5th Anniversary
Japanese Wine Cask 69.3% ABV

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2012 Tokyo Bar Show

This past weekend was the Tokyo Bar Show held at Roppongi Midtown. Although I initially thought it was purely a bartender/cocktail event there was a very heavy whisky presence at the event. In fact the special bottlings for this event were all whisky – specifically Japanese Whisky. Five expressions were bottled to commemorate the event:

Karuizawa – a vatting of 1999 and 2000 casks. Aged in sherry butts and bottled at 61.6%ABv

Chichibu – cask #287. Distilled in 2009 (3 y/o) aged in Chibidaru barrel (Chichibu’s original quarter cask. Bottled at 61.8%ABV

Yamazaki – Single cask, Distilled 1999 (12 y/o), aged in a puncheon. I couldn’t find it’s bottling strength unfortunately.

Hanyu – single cask # 349, Distilled in 2000 (12 y/o), aged in Chibidaru quarter cask, bottled at 58.4%ABV

Karuizawa – another vatting of sherry butts Distilled in 1999 and 2000. Bottled at 61.7%ABV

These are some interesting and rare bottlings that you won’t want to think about for too long if you are even remotely interested in liking them up. You can purchase them online here

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Chichibu The Floor Malted

Another interesting new release from Chichibu and I am definitely not complaining…well the wallet is a little but I am sure that I will overcome its protests. Here in the US craft distillers get a lot of praise for their innovation and attention to detail – rightfully so. Ichiro Akuto should be acknowledged as well for what he is doing at Chichibu. This currently release is Chichibu The Floor Malted. Which as the same suggests is made with barley that is floor malted – a characteristic of one of a whisky’s primary ingredient that is getting to be more rarified.

There will be 8800 bottles of this release coming in at 50.5%ABV. It is an interesting combination of primarily bourbon casks as well as puncheon and Chichibu’s own original quarter casks called “Chibidaru”. This is supposed to go on sale this month so keep an eye out for it because I expect it to sell out almost immediately like most Chichibu and Ichiro’s Malts releases.

**Update** Some more insightful details about this bottling over at the Japanese whisky authority Nonjatta here.

Clint over at Whiskies R Us reviewed and provided his tasting notes on The Floor Malted here.

Where to buy:  You can order a bottle from Claude Whiskies Japan here.  They do speak English and ship outside of Japan as well.  Tokyo’s Liquors Hasegawa also has bottles for sale now too.


Filed under Chichibu, News

Whiskies of the World – Right Around the Corner!

We have attended the last two years of the Whiskies of the World Expo and are happy to say that last year was a major improvement.  The management is dedicated to improving this event every year so we expect this year to be even better.  See you there!    

13th Annual Whiskies of the World Expo & Artisanal Spirits Fest

The Whiskies of the World Expo gathers the world’s most fascinating distilled spirits along with their makers and ambassadors to give its guests an opportunity to sample, learn and experience a night of delicious spirited fun. The grand tasting will take place aboard the San Francisco Belle Yacht (remains docked), with its three ballroom-size tasting decks, and an open roof Whisky & Cigar Pairing deck. Come on March, 31th to enjoy 100’s of Whiskies, a full buffet dinner, Whisky Masterclasses, a live Bushmills Pipe and Drum Concert, whisky mixology; artisanal food pairings, live jazz, cigars and more. Learn, celebrate, experience!


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