Recently at Malt we’ve been naming the distillery wherever possible behind a mysterious name or brand. Unfortunately our run of form has run out with this 21 year old Japanese blended whisky from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, which remains a total enigma.
Given its impressive age and origin, it’s a fairly reasonable assumption that the contents come from one of the big 2 Japanese producers in Nikka or Suntory – or is it? Beyond that and which specific distilleries will remain open to speculation. What isn’t up for grabs now are the bottles themselves. Landing at retail recently with an asking price of £167.95, the entire outturn of 940 bottles sold out pretty promptly.
As with every Boutique-y whisky I have to highlight the 50cl size and do the quick maths to bring it up to the standard 70cl size. This allows me to put the price tag into context and whether the whisky itself matches whatever outlay is required. This results in a revised tag of £235.13 which is around where it’s been selling on the secondary market i.e. auction websites.
Putting this into context is only fair. Japanese whisky has soared in terms of popularity and price tag. Nowadays at the lower end of the market you’re left with the Suntory Chita grain whisky or a No Age Statement concoction such as the Hibiki Japanese Harmony. If you want an age statement and distillery name then you’re into the realm of big money and auction speculators. Even 4 or 5 year old whiskies from relatively unknown Japanese distilleries are in excess of £120 nowadays. Meaning this 21 year old Japanese blend was good value price wise. It’s a sign of the times that success breeds more demand and higher prices. Apparently it’ll still be several years till Japanese distilleries have enough stock to start re-introducing age statements onto the market. Today is an era of ballots, mass scrambles and tactical deployment to purchase a bottle of all things.
Speaking with enthusiasts I know, the particular brand of labels that adorn the Boutique-y range is divisive. Personally, I welcome a break from the norm. Whether its the interesting and quirky labels that adorn their range or the inventive style utilised by the Dornoch Distillery team. Malt is all about breaking down whisky barriers and bringing honesty and a candid debate to all things whisky. Compared to some of our inventive European, American and Japanese producers, the art of a label is sadly rather stuffy and well, bloody boring in Scotland. Surprisingly for this release the Boutique-y label is rather refined and dignified! Quite an eye catching for its simplistic beauty.
Lets experience the missing part of the equation and discover if we all should have bought a bottle…
Japanese Blended Whisky #1 21 Year Old – review
Colour: rubbed brass
On the nose: immediately it offers that recognisable Japanese note that I tend to summarise as sandalwood. Followed by a gentle ginger root and Muscovado sugar. More rubbed brass, coconut flakes, golden syrup and honey glazed ham. Quite pleasant overall with some almonds and milk chocolate.
In the mouth: brown sugar again, a gentle waft of tobacco, dark chocolate and vanilla. Some subtle spicing with black pepper, cardamom and nutmeg. There’s an evident age here with some delicious layers including raisins, hazelnuts, cola cubes and a touch of smoke.
This release reminds me what Japanese whisky is capable of. For too long now we’ve been slumbering in the doldrums with concepts and whiskies without much information other than they’ve been masterfully blended. This 21 year old is engaging, approachable and very tasty. The finish almost prevents this one from scoring an 8, but its within touching distance and deservedly so the more I think about the whole experience and price tag.
My thanks to the Boutique-y Whisky Company for the sample and photograph