I don’t really know too much about this whisky. I believe it’s available only at the distillery (and considering Yoichi is on Hokkaido, that’s a bit out of the way for regular visitors to Japan). It is said to be both a single cask and a vatting so there might be some Glendronach-style shenanigans going on. Anyway, that’s enough non-information for me. On to the whisky!
Yoichi 15, “Genshu” Single Cask (59%; cask #412195; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Raisins, dark rum, mild caramel, some cola concentrate. Dried tangerine peel comes up from under followed by some salt and some savoury notes (a wisp of gunpowder, salted nuts, ham) and some graphite. Textbook heavily sherried whisky with nothing tannic about it. With more time the citrus expands quite a bit. With water the salt expands (salted nuts) and it brightens up in general. Then sweeter, richer fruit starts appearing on the nose—cherry and plum at first and then some apricot jam. And after a bit it’s as though that sticky fruit’s been applied as a glaze on some roast pork.
Palate: Starts out sticky sweet with heavy oloroso notes; quite a bit of salt here too but none of the citrus and gunpowder (at least at first). Much more alcohol bite on the palate. On the second sip I’m getting some caramel and also some dates. Quite meaty a la Mortlach. Water doesn’t do as much for the palate as it does for the nose—but it does make it more approachable. After a bit first some citrus and then, unfortunately, some slight sharp/sour notes appear (sulphur?). With even more time it gets quite nutty (salted pistachios).
Finish: Long. Salty and then the sherry separates just a bit at the end leaving a taste of blood in the mouth. With water sweeter notes emerge late along with some charred wood.
Comments: Really quite lovely—and water really opened it up (especially on the nose). It is quite a shift from the regular 15 yo to this. I have to say that as good as this is it is a more standard-issue heavily sherried malt whisky; it doesn’t have the distinctive character of the regular 15 yo. But man, if Nikka made this stuff generally available Glendronach would have to watch their ass. I preferred it with water.
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to gimmeadram for the sample!