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83 points

White Oak Akashi Japanese Single Malt, 46%

A winsome, floral nose, with icing sugar, green tea, sweet toffee, and juicy fruits including apricot, dragon fruit, and ripe watermelon. The honey-fruity core of tangerine, watermelon, orange oils, Starburst candies, and a little caramel imports attractive flavors, the balance and complexity given heft by the white pepper and dried chili notes. The drawback is the lack of body and texture. The end brings a flurry of pepper and burnt oak, and a long tail of melon and spices.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2016)

82 points

White Oak Akashi Meïsei Blended Whisky, 40%

Spicy and savory with dark soy sauce, the blackened bark of a hunk of roasted meat, peppercorn, fennel, and faint lemon zest. Lemon meringue pie and tangerine flavors; quite sweet, with lovely flowing spices throughout, and a few green notes, but when the creamy fudge comes in, the ride is over. Compared with the standard blend, this has greater balance, benefiting from the absence of the more abrasive spices and herbal aromas. Abrupt finish, leaving a hollow spiciness behind. £35

Reviewed by: (Winter 2016)

80 points

White Oak Akashi 5 year old, 45%

The Eigashima distillery, on the Akashi Strait near Kobe, may be the least well known of Japan’s single malt plants, but has a sound claim to be the country’s oldest, as its license to make whisky was granted in 1919 — four years before Yamazaki was built. It has, however, specialized in shochu, and even now only turns its hand to whisky making for two months every year. This 5 year old — bottled for independent Japanese specialist Number One Drinks — represents a tentative move into the single malt market once more. Pale in color, it shows a typically Japanese cleanliness on the nose that’s cut with a touch of waxiness. It opens with a scented angelica-like lift, there’s even a whiff of something like gooseberry jam. As it opens, the aroma darkens slightly, showing a touch of roasted tea. Water brings out a little yeastiness (typical for some younger whiskies), alongside cucumber, borage, and lime. The palate is sweet with vanilla custard and a sweet, ginger-accented note leading to ripe pear. A charming malt, and already well-balanced for its age. Here’s Japan at its lightest. £55. Price in US dollars converted at time of review.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2010)

80 points

White Oak Akashi Japanese Blended Whisky, 40%

Like a trip to the stalls of an old spice market, the traders beckoning you closer with their colorful wares. Nutmeg, fennel seed, and caraway on the nose, then papery dried oak leaves, toast crumbs, and slightly pungent notes of chive and shucked pea pods. This is a fatter, more glutinous whisky than the single malt. Lemon glaze, fudge, honey, nectarine, and kumquat balance an undercurrent of pepper, cinnamon, and mustard seed. A slightly sour swallow, then the spices reign supreme.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2016)