Review: Iwai Tradition Mars Blended Japanese Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Distiller Mars Shinshu (Shinshu, Japan)

The Mars distillery is fairly old - since 1949 - and is medium sized. However, they were closed in 1992 and re-opened in 2011 in their new location of Shinshu - a high elevation (>2600 ft) where they had to dig 120 metres (400 ft) to get a good supply of water from their well system. They use a variety of malts, yeasts (three types - a distiller’s, brewers, and historic strain) and barrels (sherry, bourbon, and wine casks). This whisky sits in the middle of their core lineup, and represents a blended whisky with a mixture of grain whiskies and single malts.

Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Oaky, with lots of dried fruit and, interestingly, a bit of a marine character like dried seaweed. Plaintain, plum, apple jam, baking spice, dried thyme, and even a touch of cucumber! The palate is spicy, with a nice spice character and loads of dried fruit, with a slight tanginess. The finish has some light spice, more dried fruit, and light rancio.

I like this, but it’s still missing a few pieces.

Value: Average, based on $70. I put low, at first, but this isn’t terribly expensive and Japanese whisky is hard to find, so I bumped it up.