Mars Iwai Tradition Blended Whisky
Located between Japan’s soaring Southern Alps and the towering Central Alps, at just over 2,600 feet, Mars Shinshu is Japan’s highest whisky distillery. The Hombo family have been distilling for more than a century and added whisky to their repertoire in 1949. At that time the distillery was located in the Tsunuki region of Kagoshima Prefecture on the southern-most island of Kyushu.
Until 1984, it was the southernmost whisky made in Japan, which ended when the Hombo clan moved the distillery to the idyllic alpine setting of Miyada village in southern Nagano Prefecture, Central Japan. They chose this site for its cool temperature, which slowed maturation, and the plentiful soft granite filtered snowmelt fed aquifers. A beautiful choice.
In 2016, Hombo Shuzo reopened and introduced new pot stills to their first distillery location in Kagoshima now known as the Mars Tsunuki Distillery, once again Japan’s southernmost distillery.They also built an aging facility on a tiny island known as Yakushima, a National World Heritage site, where they now age spirits from both Shinshu and Tsunuki distilleries.
Nose: Initially, spiced honey, and gingerbread aromas dominate the nose, followed by a little creamy white rice, some subtle dried fruits and the faintest hint of peat smoke.
Palate: Full bodied, serving up flavours of maple syrup on vanilla biscuits, fresh bread, orange marmalade, cinnamon, soft cloves and a little gentle oak.
Finish: Lighter and brighter than the palate, with a medium length. The finish offers notes of cacao nibs, toffee, slightly drying leather, a touch of smoke and malty sweetness.