Whisky Advocate

Guest Review: White Oak 5 year old, 45%, £55

August 19th, 2010

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 tomake 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. – Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 80

2 Responses to “Guest Review: White Oak 5 year old, 45%, £55”

  1. Marc says:

    Really appreciate the notes on the Japanese whiskey. A good change of pace.

  2. Mark says:

    These guest reviews are helpful even if not immediately (for most) actionable. For one thing, it is worthwhile to encounter other voices on the whisky. I’m glad this is happening for that reason alone. John doesn’t need the help in at least one important sense (the quality of his reviews). It does, though, strengthen the character of the site to introduce a diversity of voices among the reviews. So, thanks to all three for the work.

    As for these Japanese whiskies, man oh man, I’m seriously intrigued. These notes of “cleanliness” and of “the Japanese quality of laying flavors out very precisely on the tongue while also heightening their intensity” fit well with the Suntory offerings I’ve enjoyed. Yam18 is exceptionally successful, it seems to me, and while I wouldn’t pour Hibiki every day, it’s vanilla bean and butterscotch character astonishes me. I do wish the Japanese exported more to the States. Even without that, I’m glad to read about more of what’s over there. Thanks again.

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