Shizuoka United S / Pot Still K / 2018 Asta Morris

Shizuoka United S / Pot Still K / 2018 Asta Morris

We look at some of the Shizuoka whiskies that came out in the past year.

As you know, K indicates the old Karuizawa still, while W refers to a custom made wood-fired still. On the other hand, S indicates the mixture of both styles of spirit. Shizuoka S exists as Contact S (blended upon bottling, if I’m not mistaken) and United S (married for a longer time). We’re trying the first edition of United S, which primarily uses Japanese malt.


Shizuoka United S (50,5%, OB 2023, first edition, 5000 btl.)

Nose: interesting. First there’s the typical gin-like freshness that I associate with Shizuoka, with mint leaves, fennel seeds and wild herbs. Some apple and nectarine sweetness. Then also sesame crackers, hummus, vanilla and something lightly milky, hints of toast (even smoke?), nougat and biscuits. Overall one of the rounder noses I’ve had from Shizuoka.

Mouth: a rather thick, fresh and herbal entry, with plenty of yeasty notes now. Some beer-like notes before it moves towards caramelized notes, toffee and a honeyed maltiness. Hints of freshly baked pastry, orange peeels and mixed oriental spice. Faint earthy hints in the end.

Finish: medium length, with barley sweetness, cumin and pepper. Some umami notes in the background.

A rather mild and smooth Shizuoka. Some will say this is very balanced, while I think it is slightly less typical because the elements of each style get washed out a little. Vanilla and honey from the oak manage to overtake the more unique elements in the spirit. Available from Care for Craft Spirits for instance.


Now we go back to a familiar whisky: Shizuoka Pot Still K. Of this style they produce versions with imported barley (from Scotland, partly peated) and with Japanese malt (unpeated).


Shizuoka Pot Still K – imported barley (55,5%, OB 2023, first edition, 5000 btl.)

Shizuoka Pot Still K - imported barley Nose: less smooth, but just as elegant, with the added bonus of coastal peat smoke. Even more on these herbal (and grassy) notes at first, think eucalyptus, aniseed and mint, as well as some mineral touches and chalk. After a while some sweetness shines through, as well as peanuts and vanilla cake. Hints of dry ashes and mildly medicinal touches as well.

Mouth: more aniseed, juniper, mint and lemon peels. Fresh herbs and botanicals. Then coastal notes and subtle whiffs of smoke take over. A nicely fat texture (you cannot not think of Springbank), with bright citrusy hints, flax, white stone fruit and more of these medicinal elements.

Finish: long and ashy, with beautiful citrus acidity, limestone and just a hint of lemon candy.

This brings back most of the oriental touches and adds a nice puff of coastal smoke. I’m a fan of this style. I prefer the Pot Still W version with imported barley but only by a small margin. Available from Care for Craft Spirits for instance. Score: 87/100


The next one is a single cask release for Asta Morris. This was made with unpeated Pilsener malt and pinnacle yeast.


Shizuoka Pot Still W 5 yo 2018 (55,6%, OB for Asta Morris 2023, bourbon barrel #734, 50 cl, 325 btl.)

Shizuoka Pot Still W 2018 - Asta Morris Nose: definitely more estery and fruity than the others. Really bright peaches, lemons, gooseberries, hints of fragrant apricot jam and jasmine tea. A little bergamot and mint. Then some almond paste, sage and furniture / brass polish in the background. Really good.

Mouth: same fruitiness – plenty of estery fruits. Apples, green bananas and peaches, alongside the expected lemons. The bourbon barrel has its say, with vanilla, a little white chocolate and white pepper. This gets more malty and more caramelly towards the finish.

Finish: medium long, still bright and rounded. Lemon juice and almonds, with subtle herbal touches.

The focused, bright fruitiness is excellent, I had to think of Glen Keith at times. Then again it comes at the expense of the more typical oriental notes in my opinion. It all depends what you’re looking for. Really good though, on par with the first edition of Pot Still W which was one of our favourite Shizuokas so far. Sold out, as far as I can tell. Score: 88/100