Tuesday 28 December 2021

Akkeshi Kanro & Boshu Single Malt Japanese Whisky (& Usui blended whisky) [Tasted #556 - 558]

After a bit of a pause, we're continuing our look at what Japanese whisky is today, this time with a trio of releases from Akkeshi - namely the "Kanro" & "Boshu" single malts, and "Usui" blended whisky.

These releases (sold and distributed in Hong Kong by AFTrade) are numbers 1, 2 and 3 in what will eventually be a 24 bottle series, known as the "24-season series", representing the 24 divisions of the solar year. 

Construction of the Hokkaido-based Akkeshi began in 2015, with distillation starting from October 2016. With stills by Forsyths (5,000L wash still, 3,600L spirit still) and the use of Mizunara casks, the distillery fuses the best of Scotland and Japan to, in their words"create a whisky similar to Islay malts" - a departure from the typically lighter, unpeated Japanese whiskies we see today.

Following in the footsteps of some other new distilleries, Akkeshi released a few pre-whisky spirit bottlings to give people a taste of what was to come, under the "Foundations" range. I remember back in the day (when travel was possible) spotting and trying some of these at bars all over Japan - at 200mL and ~¥3,300 each, they were a cheap and accessible way to get an insight into the distillery's future whiskies.

Their first single malt whisky ("Sarorunkamuy") arrived in February 2020, and the series above followed. Let's dive in...

Akkeshi "Kanro" Single Malt Japanese Whisky (55% ABV, NAS, Hokkaido, Japan, no longer available)
Colour: Yellow golden sunset.

Nose: Slight cereal note, with citrus spice, subtle smoke, and big notes of paprika and sandalwood. Slight salinity.

Palate: There's obvious peat, but a lighter, sweeter, fruitier variety. Hints of strawberry and orange, sea salt air, strawberries & cream, and a little of that cereal from the nose.

Finish: Long, light peat and slight new oak notes.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.

Akkeshi "Boshu" Single Malt Japanese Whisky (55% ABV, NAS, Hokkaido, Japan, no longer available)
Colour: Light yellow gold.

Nose: Citrus, lemon peel, blueberry, chocolate strawberries and a slight salinity.

Palate: Soft, subtle floral wooded smoke. Oak, coconut and campfire notes.

Finish: Dark chocolate, slight oak bitterness, citrus peel.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100.

Akkeshi "Usui" Blended Japanese Whisky (48% ABV, NAS, Hokkaido, Japan, no longer available)
Colour: Golden amber.

Nose: Burnt toast, cereal grains, milk chocolate powder.

Palate: Sweet and floral, with notable sandalwood, orange peel and hints of fresh oak. Sweet and robust, with caramel chews after some time.

Finish: Long, soft oak with a slight pepper spice.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 88/100.

Thanks to AFTrade for the samples of these whiskies. Whilst they're now all sold out, subsequent releases in the series are now available.


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