Kanosuke single malt is the first standard product of the Kanosuke distillery in Japan. While this single malt should become their cornerstone whisky, they already announced that they are not able to provide a stable supply of the product at this time. They will increase production but for the time being it will remain rather limited.
Kanosuke distillery stands on a beach-front on the west coast of Kagoshima Prefecture. It was started in 2018 by Yoshitsugu Komasa, from a family with a long history in shochu production. It is equipped with three pot stills, each different in the shape of the neck and the angle of the lyne arm. Everything is focused on getting a soft texture.
I believe this was aged in casks that held Mellowed Kozuru, their famous rice shochu which is aged for the maximum possible 3 years in oak casks.
Kanosuke single malt (48%, OB 2023, ex-Shochu American oak casks)
Nose: very bright, with yuzu / lime up front, vanilla cake, apple juice and banana milkshake. Soft hints of lychee juice. Then lightly sweetened lemon tea with drops of honey. Whiffs of mint and hints of gin botanicals like aniseed. Quite enticing and softly perfumed, with an honest oriental character. Some parts remind me of Shizuoka’s Pot Still W type.
Mouth: still fresh and showing a nice oily texture, but less complex now, revolving around herbal notes, light honey and ginger tea. Hints of anise, a little icing sugar and minty freshness. Then juniper, green fruits and a raw and spirity note that gives away its youth. A light peppery note as well.
Finish: medium, on orange and lemon peels, wood spice and hints of shochu indeed.
This is what we’re after in Japanese whisky: a product that is actually distilled in Japan, with a true oriental character and a nice ABV. It offers decent complexity already (thanks to different stills perhaps), even though it would benefit from a few more extra years, especially on the palate. Kanosuke is a new promising name in Japanese whisky in my opinion. Not widely available, but Whisky Maniac is one of the stores that has it. The Whisky Exchange as well.