Mizunara (Quercus mongolica) is commonly referred to as Japanese oak. There are other types of native oak in Japan though (e.g. Konara oak or Ubame oak) so it would be more precise to say Mongolian oak.
Anyway Mizunara oak is commonly used for the maturation of whisky (especially by Chichibu and Yamazaki) and was used to finish this Ichiro’s Malt whisky. Read this Nonjatta article if you’re interested in the characteristics of Japanese oak.
This Mizunara Wood Reserve is a vatted malt (undisclosed, but probably from the Hanyu and Chichibu distilleries).
Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve
(46%, OB 2010)
Nose: many woody notes, like a carpenter’s workshop. Sandalwood, mint and ginger. Soft grassy notes. Hints of incense. Some fruity notes and indeed also a faint coconut aroma in the background. Gets more aromatic over time. Not unlike some modern “oak-boosted” Scotch whisky, especially with Virgin oak finishes.
Mouth: underpowered I’m afraid and lacking intensity. A little pepper and allspice. Then grows slightly sour (wood extracts) with a salty edge. Herbal and oaky but still washed out. Soft grapefruit.
Finish: very short, slightly gingery.
The nose is nice enough (within its genre), but the palate fails to deliver. Hard to recommend unless you have a scientific interest in Japanese oak.
Around € 110. Thanks for the sample, Jack.