Prunes, barbecue seasonings, and hoisin sauce, sweetened by rich caramel; soak up the heady aromatics. Gloopy texture on the palate explodes into life with burnt orange, dried mango, and banoffee pie, spiraling down to black licorice, burnt oak, and Brazil nut. The name acknowledges Kiichiro Iwai’s role in ushering in whisky making for Hombo Shuzo in the 1960s, drawing on the notes diligently recorded by Masataka Taketsuru in Scotland. (JM, Fall 2017)
The Mars distillery is very well regarded in Japan despite the low price point. The pot stills used to make this whisky were constructed in the '50s. The fat stills produce a very weighty and complex spirit that delivers a rich texture and complex aromas. Hombo Shuzo, the owners of the distillery, are one of Japan's top wine producers and therefore have access to a great number of cask types. Most whisky is aged in sherry and bourbon, but the distillery is also experimenting with wine casks as well. Iwai has a richness and texture that many of the other entry-level Japanese whiskies do not achieve. This unusual whisky is a blend of 65% lightly peated malt, 10% rye grain, and 25% corn whisky. They are aged in ex-bourbon, sherry, wine, virgin French oak, and new American. The whiskies in the blend are aged between 3-20 years of age. The Iwai Tradition is very much a drinker's whisky and offers a lot of pleasure for your dollar. It may not have the cache that the Suntory whiskies have, but it's got every bit as much quality and complexity.
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