Like so many Japanese whiskies that have come to the market in recent years, Kaiyo remains an enigma. It tastes delicious, there is a tantalizing background story to the brand, but the level of detail a whisky geek desires always seem in short supply. No matter, ultimately when the price is right and the whisky tastes great, we are here to pull the trigger. The two casks are similar in their story, but very different in the final profile. Both are Japanese in origin, presumably teaspooned malt from the same source. They were placed into Mizunara oak for nearly 7.5 years and then each made Kaiyo's hallmark Ocean voyage. The gentle rocking, salt air, temperature and humidity changes are all a part of the whisky's story. Once they disembarked from their ship their stories diverge. Cask #543 has a much more unique finishing than #541. After its ocean stint the whisky was transferred to a ruby port pipe for a year. The dark red fruited wine cask has lent a wide array of flavors to frame the initial Mizunara aging. Dark chocolate, dried dates, ripe currants, and sweet raisins all meld with the sandalwood and coconut of the oak. Unchillfiltered and bottled at %56 ABV.
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By: Andrew Whiteley
K&L Staff Member
Like its sister cask, this comes from some of Kaiyo’s oldest stocks – after nearly seven and half years in Japanese Mizunara oak the whisky was transferred into a ruby port pipe for another year of finishing. The result is a spectacular array of red fruits and raisins to frame the spicy yet tropical flavors of Mizunara oak. The hallmark sandalwood notes are particularly persistent on the finish. It’s amazing how much power the famed Japanese wood carries into the spirit, to see it with a unique finish that compliments it so well is a real treat. With a dash of water a much more complex array of red currants, dusty cocoa, and candied nuts come forward on the nose and palate. It's as though that water is the key that unlocks the port pipes Mizunara cage.
By: David Othenin-Girard
K&L Staff Member
These wild casks of Japanese Mizunara Oak aged whisky have been are a bit of a mystery, but tasting them side by side is a really interesting experience. While cask 541 had tons of spice and this one has much more fruit. The nose starts with classic Mizunara plums spice, but melds into a complex bouquet of wild honey, baked apple, earthy malt and fresh oak. The softer nose doesn't translate to the palate and we've still got that bold oak and spice from the Mizunara taking over. Yet here more subtlety, more malt and a bit more sweetness. There's something that reminds me distinctively of Ben Nevis, which would be appropriate considering the assumed source. A very interesting offering indeed.
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