Kaiyo 'Cask Strength' Japanese Whisky (700mL)
1 or more bottles$160.00
The Whiskey Was4.5 points
Jonny McCormick90 points
To break into the incredibly popular Japanese Whisky market, we wanted something that, just like our wine selection, would not only over-deliver in regard to complexity and flavour, but would also have a great story to accompany it. Kaiyō is the creation of a a former Asahi employee, Mr. Watanabe, through his connections in and knowledge from his work in the industry. All of the Whisky that Watanabe uses is purchased in Japan. His Whiskies are not single malt from the start, however, because of the practice of teaspooning these purchased casks. A relatively common practice but perhaps not as well understood, teaspooning is the practice of adding a small amount of another Whisky to a barrel, anywhere from a drop (or a teaspoon) to a full bottle. This practice prevents the purchaser or independent bottler from claiming that the Whisky is a single malt from the seller, and selling it under its name. He hand selects specific barrels of raw whisky spirit, made by some of the most respected names in the Japanese Whisky game, that he then wants to use for his blend. The base whisky is then transferred to the most expensive and complex oak barrels in the world; Mizunara Oak.
Mizunara Oak casks are among the rarest casks in the world and are considered the finest in which to mature Whisky. The native Japanese Mizunara oak tree is incredibly difficult to cut and shape, and only the most skilled coopers can work this wood. Firstly, these oak trees must be a minimum of 200 years old before they are large enough to be used. In addition to this, the wood is softer and has more knots in it, making it harder to cut into barrel staves. The shape of the tree also proves a hindrance as the oak trees do not grow straight but rather with a fluid curvature. So why go to all this trouble and expense? It's because of the incredibly complex range of flavours Mizunara oak imparts on the spirit inside. Oak is the most influential factor in the flavour of whisky, and Mizunara brings flavours of orange, lavender, dried berry, coconut, honey and vanilla, as well as a deep mahogany colour and luxurious, creamy soft mouthfeel.
After years of maturing in Japan, the casks go on a final maturation stage. They are sent on a sea voyage, leaving from Osaka Japan and arriving in Scotland 3 months later. This is a process known as 'Maderisation' first recognised by traders going between Europe and the Americas during the Age of Discovery, where wine shipped across the equator would add complex flavours to the wine when shipped in barrels. As a wine company, this process was just another reason why we had to import this very special product!
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Critic Scores & reviews
The Whiskey Wash4.5
"This is the favorite. It is balanced and has all of the complexities that one may seek in a Japanese whisky. Definitely adding some water or ice, makes this one shine, adding more fruit flavors."
"Fully matured in mizunara oak on land and sea, this has tangy orange, ground ginger, fennel seed, cedar, and incense, though it seems a little more tightly wound than the standard strength whisky. Juicy orange, quick firecracker spices, and more toffee sweetness; it becomes heavy and thick, flaunting high alcohol, then turns creamier with marzipan, orange Jell-O, and singed oak spices."
Love this wine? Here's a list of other vintages we have in stock if you'd like to try them as well.
Kaiyo Japanese Whisky 700mL
- Variety Whisky
- Vintage None
- Brand Kaiyo
- Cellaring Ready, but will Keep
- Wine Type Spirits
- Alcohol Percentage 43.0% Alcohol
David Driscoll4.5 points
Whisky Advocate92 points
Wine and Spirit91 points
All current auctions for this wine & any different vintages.
Although Japan has a long history of viticulture and grape cultivation for table consumption, domestic wine production with locally produced grapes is much more recent (late 19th century). Today, more than 200 wineries exist in Japan. The Japanese are producing wines in a range of climates and areas throughout the country, from mountains and valleys to coastal areas, with Japan generally seeing more rainfall and humidity than the major wine-producing areas of Europe. The main winemaking region, which accounts for roughly one-third of domestic production, is in Yamanashi Prefecture. Other regions include Hokkaido, Nagano, and Yamagata. Japan cultivates a wide range of grape varieties; however, most of these are for table consumption, with only a small percentage used in domestic winemaking. Though technically no grapevines are native to Japan, the Koshu white wine grape has evolved locally over the centuries, and many consider it an indigenous variety. Koshu generally boasts citrus aromas, including grapefruit and lemon, light acidity, and lower alcohol. Other varieties include Muscat Bailey A, a red grape; Merlot; Chardonnay; Cabernet; Kerner; and Sauvignon Blanc.
Japan Multi Regional
Until October 2018, there were few rules regulating labelling on Japanese wines in Japan’s quickly burgeoning wine industry. This proved confusing for many consumers, who had little information to identify what was in a given bottle of domestic wine. What’s more, some ‘Japanese’ wines comprised local grapes blended with imported grapes. These recent regulations now serve as a foundation for an appellation system that requires where grapes are grown to appear on wine labels. This, too, is not without its challenges, as many wineries don’t own their own vineyards and still source fruit from multiple regions. With these rules, however, only wines made from 100%-domestically-grown grapes can say ‘Japanese wine’ on the label. The rules have also established a new geographical indication system that restricts the use of place names to wines that consist of at least 85% of fruit from that place. Plus, if a Japanese wine wants to include the grape varietal on the label, there must be more than 85% of the varietal in that wine.
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Pairs Well With
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About the brand Kaiyo
Kaiyo is a negotiant bottler started by a drinks group led by former Asahi employee Mr. Watanabe who was able to purchase "teaspooned" malt whisky barrels from an unnamed Japanese whisky supplier via his connections in the industry ("teaspooning" is when a distiller adds a teaspoon of another whisky into the barrel before selling it, thus preventing the purchaser from claiming it as a single malt from that distillery). The whiskies are purchased as teaspooned new make (unaged distillates) and then put into Japanese Mizunara oak barrels from Ariake, considered one of the best manufacturers in the world (each new Mizunara barrel costs between $6,500 - $7,500). For those unfamiliar with the legend of Japanese Mizunara oak, it's become heralded in the whisky world both for the exotic flavors of incense, sandalwood, and coconut it passes along to the spirit, as well as its expense. Difficult to cooper and notoriously inefficient as a vessel, editions of Yamazaki and Bowmore aged in Mizunara wood have sold at four figure prices, making the Kaiyo whiskies in comparison seem like a steal. The cask strength version of Kaiyo Mizunara is basically a stronger, more intense version of the regular edition with everything turned up. The orange peel notes and oak spices on the nose jump out of the glass, the sandalwood and vanilla are bold on the palate, and there's a lot more concentration of oak on the finish. It's a more expressive and intense version of the desired Mizunara influence.