The Tottori is a somewhat controversial and basically fake “Japanese” whisky from Japan’s Whisky Public Enemy #1, Matsui Shuzo. While signs abound that the company is serious about distilling their own product it appears they’ve only even begun to actively distill whisky at Kurayoshi distillery in 2017 after acquiring a license to do so in 2015. The company itself has a long history of making Shochu since 1910 but their legitimacy in the world of Japanese whisky is certainly compromised due to their continued efforts to obfuscate as much as possible the reality of the fact, that the juice they bottle is not at all distilled in Japan. It says “Japanese Whisky” and it “Made in Japan” on their bottles and, while technically correct, that in itself is very much a matter of running a truckload of barrels over the, uh, spirit of the law, in order to follow the letter of the law.
This particular blend was matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, bottled in 2017 and has come to be in my hands as a Christmas gift. I certainly won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. In fact, controversy or not, I’ll be putting this particular gift horse INSIDE of MY mouth shortly.
Nose: Right out of the bottle we have roasted apples. After a minute in the glass warm wood notes emerge suggesting some quality but before you know it you are standing in front of a big stack of bargain pine 2x4s at Home Depot. The ones that twist and bend when you let them acclimatize at the construction site. The first impressions would have warranted at 7 here but, alas, they were fleeting. (5/10)
Palate: The bright, dry pine notes continue on the palate though less irritating than they were on the nose. The contractor who bought the 2x4s either put on a bit of herbaceous cologne in the morning or perhaps he scrubbed his kitchen floors with Pine-scented cleaner. Kinda refreshing. (7/10)
Finish: That pile of cinnamon sprinkled peels over in the corner must be left from roasting apples for the nose earlier. Almost missed them. But after creeping up on me like that the finish is actually building and settling in nicely. Also I feel like having some mulled wine all of a sudden. (7/10)
Balance: A bit all over the place this one. I like the initial nose but not what it turns into. Then I don’t like the initial hit on the palate but I do like what it turns into. Then the finish seems absent but suddenly sneaks up on you and taps you on the shoulder. Now its all comfy on my sofa. But I don’t mind. Or do I? (6/10)
Water: Two drops sort of vaporize the nose into a puff of dried old shoe polish that must’ve been stuck on the 2x4s. The palate does some quite interesting stuff around the edges where some darker notes come into play. Blackberries perhaps? But hints of flat watery cola in the center compromise that experience just for a moment. The berries last into the finish where we now also meet our old friends, the crappy bargain 2x4s, once more. Adding water was worthwhile but I have to say: this is not exactly the most stable dram.