Monday, 21 December 2015

dekantā - delivering Japanese whisky worldwide (Tasted #233: Monde Royal Crystal Whisky)

There's no doubt that Japanese whisky has absolutely taken the world by storm over the past 18 months (and yes, we largely have Mr Murray to "thank" for it). The craze that initially began with "silent still" whiskies like Karuizawa and Hanyu has since spread to pretty much any and all Japanese whisky (and even some Scotch whiskies) - including whiskies that barely a year or two ago could be easily found in almost any bottle shop.

Having taken 5 trips to Japan over the past 12 months, even in that time we've seen a huge shift - with many bottles simply no longer available, and those that are selling for huge price increases.

Yep, there's no denying it - the world is going crazy for Japanese whisky, and looks set to continue doing so for some time...

...which is where dekantā comes in. dekantā is an online store selling Japanese whisky, shipped world-wide. Their founders have been in business since 1985, but have only recently began focusing on their online presence. Their range is impressive (especially in this day and age), and whilst their prices are not what you'd call "cheap", they do have a number of bottles that are almost impossible to find anywhere, apart from auctions (where bottle provenance, authenticity and value can all be huge unknowns).

From "everyday" Japanese whiskies like Hakushu 12 and Mars Iwai Tradition, to rarities such as Yamazaki 25 year oldMars Maltage 25 + 3, Ichiro's Malt Colour Joker and plenty of Karuizawas, their range is about the most impressive we've seen (there's even a Yamazaki 35 year old, which we've never even seen in person). Whiskies from lesser known Japanese whisky producers also get a look-in, including:

Whilst clearly focusing on Japanese whisky, they also stock some Scottish whiskies (mostly independent bottlings), and even Amrut from India (whom we visited earlier this year).

Based in Japan, dekantā ship world-wide and list estimated shipping times on their website - generally no more than 10 working days, and often as short as 3 working days. To try out their service (and to prove that not everything they sell is an ultra-rare collectible),  dekantā recently sent us a bottle of Monde Royal Crystal Whisky - a 10 year old blend from Japan's "third" big whisky company, Mondeshuzo, based West of Tokyo in the Yamanashi prefecture. It retails on their site for $45USD.

Two things impressed me about the delivery - firstly the speed, which saw the bottle arrive in Hong Kong from Japan in 2 days, arriving to my office early in the morning, via EMS who I've found to be extremely reliable and speedy with deliveries from Japan. The second was the packaging - a beautifully hand-wrapped crêpe paper package with a bow, paper cranes, and a discount voucher for a future order. A package befitting of some of the rarer whiskies on their site, for sure, but it was nice to see that they went to this much detail for a $45USD whisky.

As you can see above, the bottle is certainly unique (and wouldn't be out of place in Ron Burgundy's liquor cabinet), but how does it taste?

Monde Royal Crystal Whisky (40% ABV, 10yo, blend, Yamashi Prefecture, Japan, $45USD)

Colour: Orange gold

Nose: Grain notes remind you its a blend, but then you get this big fruity hit - passionfruit, strawberries, papaya, even some mango. Unexpected, to be honest.

Palate: Thin and grainy, there's a hint of maltiness and some apple notes, and a slightly smoky / rubbery note. Not unpleasant, but it doesn't live up to the nose.

Finish: Medium in length, with a hint of smoke and a hint of grainy earthiness.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 84/100.  An interesting bottle, with quite a decent nose, but with a palate and finish that don't back it up. Decent, but unlikely to excite hardcore single malt drinkers. would like to say a big thanks to dekantā and Leah Alexander PR who provided this bottle for review, and for allowing us to try out their service.


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