Just as Japanese whisky is gaining legions of fans and connoisseurs from across the world, its stocks are depleting at an alarming rate, so much so that major brands such as Suntory and Nikka have discontinued several of their top-selling labels. On the bright side, this is the time to try out small-batch whiskies from lesser-known boutique distilleries.
Back in March this year, Grand Hyatt Tokyo released the Maduro single cask blended whisky by award-winning Chichibu distillery Ichiro’s Malt. Now, online Japanese whisky retailer Dekanta has just released a single malt whisky by the small, family-owned Eigashima Distillery in celebration of its fourth anniversary.
Called the Eigashima 2011 Kigai, this private label, single cask whisky marries two popular styles of whiskies: the Scotch and the Japanese. The spirit is first aged in a freshly emptied Scotch whisky cask from the iconic (though now closed) Port Ellen distillery, and finished in a Mizunara Japanese oak cask. As such, the whisky marries the smoky character of the Port Allen cask and the spicy aroma of the Mizunara oak, creating a robust, sophisticated flavour.
On the nose, Kigai carries hints of buttered toast, lemon zest and unripe pineapple. On the palate, the pear-like sweetness is beautifully balanced by the gentle peat smoke and a white-peppery spiciness. Surprisingly, the golden amber spirit also features a subtle note of saline, perhaps an influence from the distillery’s coastal location, less than 90 metres from the Harima-nada Sea. Fun fact: Eigashima Distillery has been producing traditional Japanese alcohol including sake and shochu for over three centuries – and it is the first Japanese distillery to be granted license to produce Japanese whisky in 1919.
Limited to only 352 bottles, the Eigashima 2011 Kigai is now available at an introductory price of USD649.99 per bottle (regular price USD749.99 after June 13) and Dekanta offers worldwide delivery. Besides rare and collectible single malt Japanese whiskies, Dekanta also carries other Japanese spirits, liqueurs and wine as well as sake.