The rarity of Japanese mizunara oak is sung across the whisky world. In recent years many have utilized the category, in the hopes of adding an element of luxury to their whisky.
Islay’s great Bowmore distillery released a mizunara expression in 2013 which, to no surprise, quickly sold out and skyrocketed in price on the secondary market. Chivas Regal offer an mizunara-finished bottling exclusive to Japan, while Irish distillery, Glendalough, recently announced the very first Irish whiskey to be finished in the oak.
Many Japanese distilleries greatly advocate the use of Japanese oak in their expressions, which further add a sense of place to whisky produced in Japan. The cooperage of the amazing Chichibu distillery is littered with trunks and casks of mizunara.
While in Japanese oak-finished releases, some flavour may be imparted from the wood, it is said that it takes around two decades for the oak to truly deliver dominant flavours to the whisky in the cask, and define its character.
For a deeper look at the wonders of mizunara, have a look here.
Yamazaki – Mizunara Experts
Suntory swears by mizunara, and is known as an expert in its use. Just look at the success of last year’s amazing Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 edition.
While the latest release went global in seconds, it is part of a series which came around in 2010. The Mizunara series is focused on delivering the full, deep experience of Japan’s oak, but its influence can be seen in other releases by the timeless distillery, like the classic Yamazaki 18 Year-Old we all know and love.
Suntory, the company behind the world-renowned Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries, is known for its unrivalled wood management. The company is, perhaps, most known for its sherry-aged expressions, of which the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 was named the world’s best whisky by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015.
Suntory hand-selects baby sherry trees in Spain. The trees are cut, coopered, seasoned for several years with Oloroso sherry, until finally being sent to Japan.
This type of attention and skill is found throughout the entire process of oak handling. Therefore, we’re very excited about the following news.
Suntory Shiojiri – Muscat Bailey A Mizunara Barrel Aging 2015
Recently, we’ve delved into the world of Japanese wine, with our cellar.
For this reason, we were overjoyed that Suntory has announced a new addition to its gorgeous range of Japanese red wine expressions finished in mizunara oak casks.
Launching on April 3rd, this 2015 expression comes from one of Suntory’s award-winning wineries, Shiojiri. Known mostly for its gorgeous range of Japanese Merlots, Shiojiri has been present in some of Suntory’s most popular wines, both domestically and internationally.
This expression uses the Muscat Bailey A grape variety, one of the few red wine varieties originating from Japan. The Muscat Bailey A grape was first cultivated back in the 1920s by Zenbei Kawakami of the Iwanohara Vineyard, as he sought to grow grapes that could withstand the fluctuating temperatures in the surrounding area.
Grapes from Japan, aged in Japanese oak, all under the watchful eye of a company with a long history and expertise in quality wine, whisky, and mizunara maturation. We’re all in for a treat!
Get your pre-order in now to experience two amazing industries from Japan come together under the Suntory brand. Suntory describes the wine as sweet, with a pleasant sourness and coconut influence from the oak. Rich, soft, and sweet, we’re hoping some incense and banana will come through to round things of perfectly.