Mt Fuji Distillery To Release New Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji and Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji 2022 Masterpiece
What you need to know:
- Mt Fuji Distillery is expanding its presence to Australia and China, and also debuting two new expressions, a Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji (core expression) and a Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji Masterpiece 2022 (limited release).
- The term "Single Blended" isn't common, but it refers to the grain and malt whiskies in the blend coming from the same distillery. For example, the much loved Hibiki blend is not Single Blended because it comes from a combination of Suntory's trio of Yamazaki (Malt), Hakushu (Malt) and Chita (Grain).
- The new core expression will be available from 7 June, 2022, across Japan and also on the Kirin online shop DRINX. The NAS expression is bottled at 43% ABV and is priced at 6,000 JPY or 50.30 USD.
- The Masterpiece 2022 is bottled at 50% ABV, also NAS it seems like, and will be released at much smaller quantities, with only about 1,000 bottles to be released, at 49,800 JPY or 417.80 USD, which is 8x the price of the Kirin Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji (Non-Masterpiece).
- The official statement states that some long-aged whiskies were used in the Masterpiece, and given that is is NAS officially and still carries the title of "Japanese Whisky" on its label, indicates to us that it probably is a combination of older grain whiskies and young malt whiskies produced at Mt Fuji Distillery.
- Kirin has been trying to revamp and push forward Mt Fuji Distillery having been stuck in a difficult partnership with former partners Seagram and Chivas, this seems to be headed in the right direction. They only have two things they need to change right now - drinker's perceptions of them as a supermarket whisky and bulking up some aged malt whisky stock. Both challenging indeed.
- Yet the distillery has a very unique distillation set up and their Single Grain Whisky has been very good (and affordable!).
- Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Cop The (Non-Masterpiece) Single Blended Whiskey, Drop The Masterpiece
Mt Fuji Distillery (previously Fuji Gotemba Distillery), under the Kirin Company, has been steadily working to capture the strong demand for Japanese whiskies by expanding capacity as well distribution, first into the US and now into Australia and China. But nothing excites fans more than new launches, and so the distillery is debuting two new expressions - Kirin Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji and Kirin Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji - 2022 Masterpiece.
The Kirin Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji
This expression will comprise of both malt and grain whiskies produced at the same distillery - a step up from their existing Single Grain core expression, this will now include some Mt Fuji Distillery produced malt whisky, which is new for the distillery.
"All the whiskies are made using the same snowmelt water, by the same people, nurtured by the same natural environment, and by the same expert blending technique. This is a whiskey that pursued the harmony of a variety of flavors, "beautiful even to the taste," which is the result of expert blending techniques."
This new core expression will be available from 7 June, 2022, across Japan and also on the Kirin online shop DRINX. The NAS expression is bottled at 43% ABV and is priced at 6,000 JPY or 50.30 USD.
The Kirin Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji 2022 Masterpiece
Not too much is known about this "masterpiece" other than that it will be bottled at 50% ABV, also NAS it seems like, and will be released at much smaller quantities, with only about 1,000 bottles to be released, at 49,800 JPY or 417.80 USD, which is 8x the price of the Kirin Single Blended Japanese Whisky Fuji (Non-Masterpiece).
"It is a quintessential blend that embodies the characteristics of Mt Fuji Distillery, using some rare, precious, and long-aged whiskies. It has a multi-layered flavor with ripe fruit aroma, custard richness, floral, spicy, and other colorful aromas."
Although it doesn't carry any age statement on the label, the official statement points at there being some long-aged whiskies included in this blend. Given that the distillery is only now starting to produce its only malt whisky and the label does bear the title of "Japanese Whisky", which means that under the new regulations, all the whisky in this bottle has to be from Japan, our guess is that the long-aged whiskies that is referred to is probably some of the older grain whiskies made by the distillery that they also have been retailing (Fuji has a 30 Year Old Single Grain Whiskey, although it does not carry the "Japanese whiskey" text on its label). That would probably put the 2022 Masterpiece as a blend of some older grain whiskies along with their much younger malt whisky produced from the distillery, versus the new Single Blended core expression which would be just a blend of young malt and grain whiskies from the distillery.
Thus far, the 2022 Masterpiece has already been sold at the distillery itself since 1 March, 2022, but will also go on sale on Kirin's online DRINX store from 19 April, 2022.
Kirin is certainly trying their best to catch up to the game and have been aggressively pushing out their whiskies, even doing a full rebranding exercise with no expense spared as they deployed some heavy investments into new pot stills and enlarging their facility. All of this came after Seagram and Chivas pulled out of the original Fuji Gotemba venture, leaving Kirin to run the distillery on its own, clearing the way for Kirin to make some much needed changes and to press on ahead.
Their new set-up is pretty unique as well. The distillery has several pot stills that enables three configurations for their grain still thereby producing a spectrum of styles ranging from light to medium and heavy.
The distillery lies at the base of Mt Fuji. (Image Source: Nonjatta, an incredible site that helped establish a bridge between Japanese spirits and the English-speaking world; contributors who paved the way before us, and we wished we could have learnt alongside.)
The pot stills used are:
- Kettle Pot Still - Soft, rich and fruity style, which takes longer than continuous distillation.
- Doubler Pot Still - Bourbon-style heavy type
- Multi-Column Pot Still - Scotch-style light type grain distiller
What's interesting is that the Kettle and Doubler pot stills are completely unique to the US and Fuji Distillery possesses the only of such pot stills outside of the US.
All that has actually produced a pretty good tasting Single Grain whiskey thus far. For the price, it tastes even better. The only thing holding them back is probably the poor perception they've languished with being a supermarket whisky for a long time until Kirin could clean things up, and the lack of aged malt whisky stock, which they are trying to fix right now, but unfortunately will simply take time.
Fuji's 30 Year Old Single Grain - the likely maker of the Masterpiece. (Image Source: DRINX)
But things are headed in the right direction and I think the new Single Blended Whiskey they are debuting will definitely be worth a try; who could say no to that Mt Fuji water? The Masterpiece 2022? Color me unconvinced. While the Single Blended, which is not a very commonly used term (and not necessarily something that carries much weight), will represent a new start for the distillery, the Masterpiece just seems like a money grab by throwing in some older grain stocks that the distillery has already been trying to sell.
Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Cop The (Non-Masterpiece) Single Blended Whiskey, Drop The Masterpiece
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