Sipping Malt Whisky 微醺之醉 威士忌

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Posted by on 03/23/2015

山崎水楢桶威士忌Yamazaki Mizunara Cask Whisky


環球美酒盡在 Sipping Malt 微醺之醉

English version at page bottom



所謂的水楢,其實亦是橡樹的一類。日本橡樹有兩個種類,分別是 Mizunara oak 和 Konara oak。由於前者較常見樹身亦較粗大,所以多用作木材原料之用。聽聞水楢木很重很結實,亦不易爆裂,是作為木製傢俱,地板和木門等的上等材料。水楢 Mizunara 名字中的 Mizu,意思是水,天然水楢木中含有較多的水份,毛細孔比較開放,用於做酒桶存酒的話,會較易漏酒。原木產量較少,製桶工藝難,容易漏酒,是成本高的原因。

原酒風味難控制,陳酒成本高,完全水楢桶陳的威士忌在市場上少見是有原因的。(註: 以上的個人觀點是來自四方八面的資料併湊而成,不要太學術認真對待)


Yamazaki 山崎 Mizunara Japanese Oak Cask 日本水楢桶 2012 Edition, 700 ml, 48%

這是市場上少有會恆常推出的水楢陳桶威士忌,所謂的恆常推出,亦只是每年一造,原價新貨上架不足一分鐘沽清。我喝的樣本是 2012 年版,價錢不要問我,我是喝酒不是喝價錢的。還有,我是 blind tasting 喝這款酒的。

氣味: 椰子,芒果,百香果,冰糖,新折樹枝,香薰,忌廉,香草
口味: 花蜜,椰子,柑皮,新鮮木材,多士,八角,丁香
餘蘊: 悠長,柑皮,黑咖啡,多士
結論: 這款酒我是盲飲的,喝的時候不知道這就是傳奇的水猶桶陳威士忌,只是覺得既不是雪莉但又不全像波本,很有新桶的風味,還有些檀香也似的香薰,開估後才知喝的就是頂頂大名難得一見的山崎水猶,真的要感謝老友。撇開那甚麼東方味的水楢特色,這款酒那熱帶水果加上新折樹枝的香氣,真的是清新無比,令人精神一振。酒體豐厚,油感,沒有氣味上那麼清爽,但也清潤,未段的辛香料加入深度,加強平衡。餘蘊頗長,甘苦適度,也是一貫的清新感。這是一款果香撲鼻,清新柔滑,平衡有致的威士忌,和其他的桶型風格有明顯分別,但也是正面的,以酒論酒,正斗之選。

English Version of Tasting Note

Suntory might be the pioneer of making the Mizunara Japanese Oaked whisky and brought the so-called “Eastern Zen" whisky favour impressing the western connoisseurs though it was not the initiative cause in doing so. There is a saying that Japan was unable to import oak barrels from those “enemy" western countries during the World War II time. The whisky makers found an alternative in northern Japan, which is the Mizunara Japanese Oak, and unintentionally created the “Eastern Zen" favor to Japanese whisky.

Japanese Mizunara oaked whisky is very expensive. In most cases those so-called Mizunara oaked whiskies are either blended of some or a finishing. The reason behind that the extract from Mizunara oak is too strong and may overwhelm  other favors of a whisky and therefore blending or finishing will be much easier to handle. The another reason is the high cost. Though Mizunara oak is not really a rare tree species, it is relatively precious in comparing to its Europium and North American cousins in terms of numbers and price.

Mizunara is a species of oaks. There are two species of Japanese oak, namely Mizunara and Konara。The former is more common and the size is bigger than the latter, it is commonly used as timbers. Since Mizunara wood is heavy and hard that resistance to crack, it is ideal for using as premium materials for making furniture, floor timbers and doors. The phase “Mizu" means water in Japanese. The Mizunara wood structure is rather porous that keeps moisture better but it is adverse to using it as materials for containers of alcoholic liquid because of prone to leak. Low supply, difficult craft in barrel making and tendency of leaking, all these factors are the causes of high cost.

The strong favor and high cost are reasons for fully Mizunara oaked whisky being uncommon in market.(Please note that above “theory"is my conjecture by reading pieces of information from many sources. Don’t see it too serious)

Forget my paradox. Just talking about a Mizunara oaked whisky.

Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2012 Edition, 700 ml, 48%

As aforesaid, fully Mizunara oaked whisky is uncommon in market. Yamazaki Mizunara Cask is a rare case which it is released on regular basis but so-called “regular release" means one batch a year and very limited in quantity. Goods just on shelve and all gone in minutes. This Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2012 Edition I tasted was a sample. Don’t ask me about the price. I was just doing blind tasting.

Nose: Coconut, mango, passion fruit, rock sugar, new wood, essential oil, cream, vanilla
Palate: Nectar, coconut, mandarin peel, fresh wood, toast, anise, clover
Aftertaste: Long, mandarin peel, black coffee, toast
Conclusion: I did blind tasting for this dram and had no idea what it was. Neither it tasted like Sherry oaked nor Bourbon oaked whiskies, just impressed with its new wood and sandalwood alike aroma and did not realize it was the legendary Yamazaki Mizunara Cask until the veil lift. Other than that so-called Mizunara oak eastern Zen’s characteristics, its tropical fruits and new wood fragrance is really refreshing. Full body, rich, creamy, not refreshing as to smell, spices at the end enrich the complexity and balance. Long aftertaste with adequate bitterness and still fresh. This dram is of fruity and refreshing, balancing and smoothly, characters quite different from other oak aged whiskies but however, a very good whisky without a doubt.

Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2012 Edition

Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2012 Edition (photo copied from Internet)

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