Kaiyo is a negotiant bottler started by a drinks group led by former Asahi employee Mr. Watanabe. He was able to purchase "teaspooned" malt whisky barrels from an unnamed Japanese whisky supplier via his connections in the industry ("teaspooning" is when a distiller adds a teaspoon of another whisky into the barrel before selling it, thus preventing the purchaser from claiming it as a single malt from that distillery). The whiskies are purchased as teaspooned new make (unaged distillates) and then put into Japanese Mizunara oak barrels from Ariake, considered one of the best manufacturers in the world (each new Mizunara barrel costs between $6500 - $7500). For those unfamiliar with the legend of Japanese Mizunara oak, it's become heralded in the whisky world both for the exotic flavors of incense, sandalwood, and coconut it passes along to the spirit as well as its expense. Difficult to cooper and notoriously inefficient as a vessel, editions of Yamazaki and Bowmore aged in Mizunara wood have sold at four figure prices, making the Kaiyo whiskies in comparison seem like a steal. You get an exotic note of tea and faint orange peel on the nose of the standard Kaiyo edition, but the soft and rather delicate palate brings more of the vanilla and oak character. The spices come out on the finish with lots of pepper and oolong. It's very Japanese in its restraint, graceful from front to back without any serious peaks or valleys.
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By: Jeffrey Jones
K&L Staff Member
This is an interesting and delicious whiskey. It has aromas that are light and floral with inviting spice and dry wood notes. In the mouth it is soft and round,and on the light side like one would expect from a Japanese whiskey. There are spice, pepper and wood notes that come together to make this an unique beverage.
By: David Driscoll
K&L Staff Member
Those looking to get a taste of real Japanese Mizunara oak-aged whisky will finally get a somewhat affordable option here with the new Kaiyo expressions. Made with whisky from an unnamed distiller (although there aren't many major players in Japan so you can begin to whittle down the options when you taste it) the Mizunara is the real star here. You get exotic spices and a sweetly-scented nose that leads into incense and toasted oak flavors on the palate. Kaiyo isn't some new microdistiller or craft project. It's taking malt whiskies from some of Japan's established players and using Japan's most treasured barrels to make something dynamic and new for the market. Get it while the gettin's good because this could be the next Yamazaki.
By: Ryan Woodhouse
K&L Staff Member
Quite an exotic expression with lots of spice, shaved ginger, clove and sandalwood. Light and delicate in texture on the palate but certainly not lacking in flavor and intrigue. Supple, easy and pure. A Japanese whisky that we actually got more than a few bottles of!!?? Yes! Aged in very expensive Mizunara Oak!!?? Yep! Likely to cause quite a frenzy!!?? Yes!
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