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Shizuoka Distillery Parent Gaia Flow Celebrates 10th Anniversary With Two Blackadder Single Cask Bottlings - Blackadder Raw Cask Shizuoka Single Malt 2018

What you need to know:

  • Shizuoka Distillery parent, Gaia Flow, is celebrating its 10th anniversary since entering the whisky trade, from importer to distiller.
  • Two single cask expressions, a first for the distillery, will be bottled under the independent bottler Blackadder's Raw Cask series. Gaia Flow is the importer for Blackadder's whisky and rum bottlings in Japan.
  • Single Cask No. 781 is a 3 Year Old Bourbon Barrel matured whisky made using Scottish non-peated barley and distilled using distiller K. 199 bottles will be released, bottled at 64.9% ABV cask strength.
  • Single Cask No. 1357 is a 3 Year Old Wine Cask matured whisky made using Japanese non-peated barley and distilled using distiller W. 177 bottles will be released, bottled at 61.1% ABV cask strength.
  • Single Cask No. 1357 is obviously the eye catcher here, given that most Japanese whiskies don't even use locally grown barley. Not to mention it is matured in a Japanese wine cask - this is going to be lit.
  • They will be made available on 18 March, 2022.
  • Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Cop 'Em Both, You Won't Regret It

 

(Image Source: Gaia Flow)

 

Shizuoka Distillery's parent Gaia Flow is celebrating its 10th anniversary and what a decade it has absolutely been! What started out as founder Daiko Nakamura's lightbulb moment when he first went to Scotland, turned into a tiptoe into the world of whiskies as an importer of some popular independent bottlings in Japan, including the ones pictured here, Blackadder, culminating into a distillery of his own - Shizuoka Distillery!

Since then, it's been a busy couple of years for the up and coming craft whisky distiller, to say the least - having assembled the distillery using some fabled equipment from the now mothballed Karuizawa Distillery, to releasing three single malt bottlings since 2020 - Prologues K and W and then Contact S.

 

Read our reviews of Prologues K and W here.

 

 

With so much done, the distillery is certainly not resting on their laurels, but some celebration is definitely in order - Gaia Flow will be bottling two single cask expressions under the Blackadder banner.

 

Two Single Casks, First For Shizuoka Distillery

The first is the Blackadder Raw Cask Single Malt Shizuoka 2018, 3 Year Old, Cask No. 781 and the second is the Blackadder Raw Cask Single Malt Shizuoka 2018, 3 Year Old, Cask No. 1357.

Both will go on sale 18 March, 2022.

 

Head of Blackadder, Robin Tucek, has supported Gaia Flow and Shizuoka Distillery from its early beginnings. (Image Source: Blackadder)

 

The two single cask bottlings, the firsts from the distillery, will commemorate the strong partnership with British independent bottler, Blackadder, and is in appreciation of their early support for Gaia Flow and Shizuoka Distillery. As such, Robin Tucek, the head of Blackadder, has been honored by having been the chosen one to select the first single casks to be bottled from the distillery.

They will both be bottled under Blackadder's flagship "Raw Cask" label, which looks to keep filtering to a minimum, leaving wood sediments in the bottle.

 

Blackadder Raw Cask Single Malt Shizuoka 2018, 3 Year Old, Cask No. 781

Made from 100% Scottish non-peated barley, it was distilled in distiller K, salvaged from the mothballed Karuizawa Distillery. It was aged in a Bourbon barrel for 3 years.

A total of 199 bottles will be released, with 60 bottles designated for sale in Japan. They are bottled at cask strength, at 64.9% ABV, and priced at 15,555 JPY or 130.60 USD.

(Image Source: Gaia Flow)

 

Official Tasting Notes

Nose

Vanilla, Hay, Slight Almond

Palate

Light Vanilla Toffee and Well-Balanced Oak Scent

Finish

Slight Pepperiness

 

 

Blackadder Raw Cask Single Malt Shizuoka 2018, 3 Year Old, Cask No. 1357

The second bottling uses 100% Japanese non-peated barley and was distilled in distiller W, one of the world's only wood-fired stills. It was aged for 3 years in red wine barrels sourced from Japanese wineries.

A total of 177 bottles will be released with 60 bottles designated for Japan sales. It is bottled at cask strength, at 61.1% ABV, and priced at 24,332 JPY or 204.30 USD. 

 (Image Source: Gaia Flow)

 

Official Tasting Notes

Nose

Caramelised and Baked Apples, Vanilla, Bananas, All Spices, Oak

Palate

Caramelised Fruits, Spices, Oak, Harmonious Soft Taste

Finish

Gentle Tannins, Sweet and Dry Vanilla Caramel Trails

 

 

Our Take

Shizuoka has been pushing out some terrific whiskies, in particular the Contact S was a superb bottle, demonstrating great balance and texture, a good oiliness and fruit, with notes of minerality. The Prologues K and W, which are incredibly hard to get hands on now, have also been great component expressions that really put on full display the distinctive styles produced from distillers K and W, both of which are quite unique in the whisky world, somewhat following some pretty traditional methods to distillation, bringing back what is more akin to an old style of Scotch and Japanese whiskies from back in the day.

 

The Shizuoka Prologues K and W were the distillery's debut bottlings.

 

But back to these two highly anticipated bottlings, the fact that they are single cask bottlings make them incredibly attractive as you get to try them pure and straight from the specific casks they were selected from. Yet, the elephant in the room is that while we're pretty certain the Bourbon-matured cask will be good (given what we've already tasted from the craft distiller), the Wine cask-matured bottling will be positively wild.

It will be the first wine-cask bottling from the distillery and not just that, it will also be our first chance at trying a bottling entirely made using domestic Japanese barley! Considering that Japan doesn't traditionally grow barley crops, and so most barley used for whiskymaking in Japan comes from somewhere else in the world, this isn't just rare for the distillery, it's rare across Japanese distilleries!

Some observers have often poked at the identity of Japanese whiskies, asking a pretty uncomfortable question for what has been unquestionably the hottest thing in whisky world, with Japanese whiskies skyrocketing in prices - what actually makes Japanese whiskies Japanese?

 

Shizuoka Distillery, leading the wave of craft distillery revivals in Japan. (Image Source: Tokyo Weekender)

 

For a long time, Japanese regulations have been really laxed and so much of what was labelled as Japanese whisky, really was not Japanese whiskies. Most of 'em were simply produced in Scotland or Canada and then imported into Japan and bottled domestically under the guise of Japanese whisky. That's finally caught up and the JSLMA has finally upped the standards for what qualifies as Japanese whiskies (forcing some pretty well-loved Nikka By The Barrel bottlings to forgo the coveted line of text on the label). In short, Japanese whiskies must be distilled, matured and bottled in Japan.

Yet, that still means imported barley remains safely the norm. So if the barley doesn't come from Japan, and most whiskies are matured in Bourbon of Sherry casks that come mostly from the US  and Spain, which part of the whisky is indeed Japanese? Stefan van Eycken examined this topic indepth in Whisky Magazine, positing that if even the processes and the stills mostly followed Scotch production guidelines, and climate and yeast while indeed somewhat unique to Japan, although that argument could be made for whiskies produced anywhere, then perhaps the Japan specific casks were the answer. Find the superbly written article here

This will be one pretty special bottling. (Image Source: Gaia Flow)

 

Well Cask No. 1357 has put that argument to rest. Japanese barley, Japanese wine casks, Japanese climate, Japanese distiller - it's about as Japan as it gets. Literally everything in the bottle is of Japanese origin. So what you're tasting here is perhaps one of first wave of true blue Japanese whiskies. Oooh hot take!

Whatever the case, you know our eyes are on the 177 bottles of Cask No. 1357. It is going to be lit.

 

Cop The Drop or Not Verdict: Cop Both Of 'Em, You Won't Regret It

  

If you liked this article on Shizuoka's new Blackadder bottlings, you'll like these too:

 

Kanpai!

 

@111hotpot



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