Akashi White Oak Whisky
I was shocked when a bottle of this whisky crossed my desk, and here’s why.
Named one of the 10 best whiskies in Japan to try now by none other than Forbes magazine, the Eigashima distillery’s “White Oak Akashi” is one of the Japan’s rarest, and perhaps most mysterious “ji-whisky”, or local whiskies produced in the country.
Eigashima, founded in 1888 near Kobe, is the country’s oldest and smallest whisky distillery. Although licensed to produce whisky in 1919, production only began in 1984 when the company moved to its new “White Oak” production facilities, hence the name of this bottling.
Prior to 1984, all production was focused on sake and shochu, and still to this day, whisky is only produced 2 months out of the year. Combined with the fact that just five employees handle the entire production of whisky makes Akashi White Oak one of the rarest in Japan and the rest of the world.
Being a distillery focused on sake and shochu, both rice-based spirits, the Akashi is specially crafted from imported Scottish barley. This barley is milled, mashed and distilled at Eigashima’s traditional pot stills usin water from its local underground source. Aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, it is a blend of years from 5 – 10 years old. However, the distillery is at pains to point out that all maturation is done in Akashi’s unique climate, with hot summers and extremely cool winters, resulting in the “angel’s share” being 7-8% per year, versus 2% in Scotland. As such, the whisky matures four times as fast in this environment, with the results showing in the glass:
The whisky opens with a malty note of cream, porridge, milk chocolate, and roasted almonds. Joining these aromas, on the palate are flavors of black cherry, praline, toffee and oak. I’ve always enjoyed Japanese whiskies for their freshness – their sheer drinkability – and this one is certainly no different. It delivers a freshly intoxicating palate of fruit, spices and malt that goes down easy and makes you want to jump on into that second glass.
One of the ten best whiskies to try now? Heck yes. I had read all about it, and then I was shocked that I got a chance to buy it. Yet here it is! We’ve got it at a great price. Don’t miss it.