As much of the world remains under lock down with COVID19 looming both across and within borders, an unsaid fear surrounds us from the enigma the virus breeds. While social distancing and the ban on non-essential travel and social gatherings are the new norm, I thought it would be best we continue keeping ourselves engaged during this time of difficulty and great sorrow; not to mention to lift ourselves with the little joys in life. With that in mind, I thought it best to pick up my Glencairn and muster on with yet another review – The Akashi Red!
The Akashi Red was something I picked up a few years back when the buzz was all things East and Oriental. The bottle reflects a humble and down to earth persona, yet offering ample details across the labeling that hugs this half-litre bottle. The expression isn’t from the larger, more popular Suntory, Yoichi or Chichibu distilleries but from a relatively smaller setting, the Eigamshima Distillery. The Akashi is in fact the only whisky that is made by a Toji, a grand-master in the art of making Sake. Only a small spectrum of the distillery’s produce accounts for whisky, the majority being Sake (of course) and Shochu, a drink made from potatoes, barley or rice.
The distillery did receive its license to produce whisky at around 1919, but began producing main stream blends only by the 1980s. However due to high liqour taxes at the time, they limited their production to only a month in a year. By the early 2000s, the distillery also began to include Single Malt whiskies in its repertoire and this was a time when Japanese whisky was being well received globally, meaning the distillery had to step up its production to keep with the demand.
The pot still used here are much smaller, encouraging fewer volumes of “bad”, “unwanted” alcohol to be present in the final distillate. The spirit is then aged in ex-bourbon casks for a period of 2 years and finished for an additional year in european sherry casks. The climate being humid, allows for increased evaporation and therefore a greater share to the angels, around 7%. This would effectively enable the young spirit to mature much faster than those aged in relatively cooler climates. Colour too is not all natural owing to the relatively low maturation period, requiring a wee bit of artificial colouring to appease the public, reinforcing a sense of false originality.
ABV : 40%
Eye: Yellow corn, gold
Nose : Barley and corn accompanied with a subtle caramel sweetness. A pinch of lime zest and a hint of honey lays hidden in between tropical papaya nuances and golden raisins. Some wood char, moist and earthy green pepper can be felt towards the tail end of the nose.
Taste : A drizzle of honey and chocolate shavings with a twist of citrus, followed by ginger peels and crushed green pepper.
Finish: Vanilla and malt with bits of spice | Short
The Akashi is light and mildly sweet, exhibiting very stereotypical notes from the ex-bourbon cask maturation. Being a relatively young spirit, it doesn’t seem to have fully acquired those robust flavours, but does highlight some of those prominent notes that are associated with American Oak maturation. The expression does however have an unorthodox, silky, oily-like texture that is more rounded than most 12 YO spirits and the flavours strike the palate after a slight pause which also seemed quite intriguing. This expressions fails to offer much variety, exhibiting a very limited range of flavours; and as is the case with most Japanese whiskies they do tend to command more.
At about $USD 40 for 500 mils, it falls into the category of what one would define expensive and for a young spirit, that for obvious reasons fails to deliver, needing a lot more time to be nurtured in the comforts of wood, it is a dram worth ignoring.