Shinanoya is a well-known food & spirits importer / retailer in Japan. They gained quite a reputation by selecting excellent casks and have them bottled exclusively for the Japanese market (the BenRiach 1976 cask #3029 to name just one).
At the Whisky Festival 2012 in Tokyo, Shinanoya presented a new bottling of Karuizawa 1981 as well as this Hanyu 2000, bottled for their 5th Anniversary. It’s the third release in their acclaimed The Game series which contains only Hanyu from the final year of production.
The spirit was finished for three and a half year in an experimental hogshead with Red Oak ends. Red Oak (Quercus Rubra) is rarely used for whisky casks as the oak has very open pores in the growth rings. In white oak they are filled with tyloses but in red oak they are wide open so casks have a tendency to leak.
Hanyu 12 yo 2000 (57,5%, Ichiro’s Malt for Shinanoya 2012, red oak heads hogshead finish, cask #360, 309 btl.)
Nose: a very powerful nose, spicy but also quite sweet and fragrant. There’s vanilla, sugar coated nuts and herbal honey, a distinct biscuity aroma and even faint marshmallow notes. Coconut oil. A little plum compote. Plenty of furniture polish and hints of cigar boxes, the whole is oaky but beautifully so. Lots of mint and eucalyptus notes which balances the sweetness nicely. Some white pepper and a faint hint of smoke in the background.
Mouth: again quite powerful, slightly hot even. It shows a malty sweetness, plum eau-de-vie and chocolate notes first, before moving towards slightly more earthy flavours, herbs and a peppery sharpness. Some tobacco leaves. Nutmeg as well. Water seems to kill part of the sweetness and puts emphasis on the herbal, slightly bitter notes.
Finish: long, fairly dry, very herbal. Nicely balanced by a warm vanilla afterglow.
A great release, powerful and elegant at the same time. Very rich, especially if you consider the age. Around 9000 yen, that’s € 80, excellent value but now sold out. Sample provided by Nonjatta.