Tasting: Hanyu Five of Spades Japanese Malt

2 Comments on Tasting: Hanyu Five of Spades Japanese Malt

Okay, I know it’s not like me to blog on consecutive days (or even twice in a week , let’s face it), but I made a promise yesterday and I’m going to try and be true to my word.  Let’s see how long this new regime can last.  I’m a generally optimistic, glass-half-full type with a sunny disposition (particularly after a few libations, as anyone who knows me will tell you), so I’m going to stick my neck out and predict at least one more post before Friday, even though I’m in the middle of knocking out distillery profiles, which for me involves a lot of reading, surfing, fact-checking and general head-scratching.

Er, let’s crack on. The above verbiage is doing nothing for my new minimalistic outlook.

Introducing (drum roll, please) Hanyu Distillery – Ichiro’s Card Series: Five of Spades (polite applause).

[Editor’s Note: Nerd info follows – normal folk can scroll down past the photo to the next bit]
Product details:  Cask  #9601;  Distilled 2000, bottled 2008.  Matured in Hogshead.  Finished in an American Oak refill sherry butt.  Abv 60.5%.  632 bottles.

Nerd trivia:  2000 was the final year of distillation at Hanyu.  The stills were removed when the distillery was dismantled in 2004.
[Editor’s Note:  The preceding information was copied off the back of the bottle’s label.  Any nerds who meet Tim in the future should not be disappointed if , when questioned, he fails to remember any salient facts about this, or any other specific bottlings you’re interested in.  He’s not a proper nerd at all.]

Hanyu Five of Spades Japanese Malt

Hanyu Five of Spades Japanese Malt

N:  Some alluring notes here under the expected alcohol prickle (it is 60.5% after all).  Takes a long, long time to open up at full strength.  Eventually I got some hot-buttered toast, malt loaf, raisins.  Develops some very nutty aromas – hazelnut, almond, walnut whips.  Old seasoned wood – more than you’d expect for a whisky of such relative youth.

N with water:  Much more genial and approachable, naturally.  Strong notes of polished wood, and waves of very clean malt, with a hint of briar / berries.  Again, more noticeable wood influence than expected.

P:  Big nuttiness to the fore but, again, at full strength the alcohol is almost too much to handle.  This definitely needs a drop or two of water. (With water):  Woody and peppery, with dried apricots, lingering spices, nuts and a hint of tweed.

F:  Pretty hot at full strength.  Water tames it but it remains very long, with hot, persistent chilli pepper and woody spices.

C:  A real curio.  For a young whisky it seems both very heavily-wood influenced and also quite old-fashioned in style.  Certainly if tasted blind I’d have made a fool of myself – I’d never have picked this as Japanese, and probably would have guessed it as 15-18 yrs old Highlander.  Definitely needs water, but loses a bit of body as a result.  Not for the faint-hearted.


Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisky Tasting Notes
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Duncan Ross says:

Hi Tim,
Here is something a bit nerdy. I noticed that we have a rather substantial number of bottles and even I find that the size of a hogshead will probably not fit 632 bottles, so I am presuming that it is several ‘hoggies’ transferred into the sherry butt for the finishing?

Tim F says:

Hey Duncan,

I had the same thought myself – although given the strength and the age, probably no more than two or three hoggies, what do you reckon?

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