Saturday, October 12, 2013

2 Mysterious Mars Single Casks

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

Today, we’ll be looking at two rather mysterious Mars single cask bottlings – mysterious because nobody seems to know much about them, not even the people at Mars themselves. We asked the current master distiller and, despite having bottled them himself, he only vaguely remembered these two whiskies. Uncharacteristically, there’s also very little in the way of information on the labels: there’s a 20yo (‘Kansyou-issiki’) with no further details about vintage, type of cask or year of bottling; and a 22yo  (‘Rakugoku Shinshu’) that only specifies the wood type (American white oak) and the outturn (166 bottles). Both were bottled at cask strength (57% and 58% abv, respectively)… a couple of years ago. Don’t ask when!
We’ll start with the youngest, the 20yo. On the nose, there’s vanilla – loads of it –, crème brulée, custard pudding, cotton candy, … You get the gist. Basically, it’s a combo of advocaat and chinsuko cookies. Water brings out a bit of wood smoke and some fruit (ripe peaches). On the palate, you get cherry sauce, lemon pie, rhubarb jam, chinsuko cookies again and quite a bit of pepper (of the white and pink variety) as well as some tannins. The finish is medium-long and rather dry on dried apricots – apologies for the alliteration, it wasn’t intentional – and vanilla ice-cream. It’s nice enough, but rather one-dimensional, to be honest.
The 22yo is a completely different story. Just nosing it, you instantly know you’re in for a treat. You get the sweetness (cough syrup, butterscotch, honey-glazed doughnuts), but this time, it’s beautifully complemented by savoury (barbecued ribs, shepherd’s pie), spicy (cloves, nutmeg, cardamom) and baked-goods notes (shortbread, knäckebröd, pretzels). After a while, you get roasted coffee beans and even truffles. What a great nose. Then, on the palate, the whisky surprises with citrus (Seville oranges, ruby grapefruit), red fruits (berry compote) and a bit of spice (shichimi). The finish is long – endless, really – on citrus and honey, throat candy, red apple peel, blood orange sorbet and mild spices. Intense and gorgeous. We don’t know much about it, but a whisky like this doesn’t need credentials. Its beauty speaks volumes.

Special thanks to Aaron for bringing these rare Mars single casks to our attention.

Read more about Hombo Mars Distillery here.

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