Monday, June 13, 2016

Blanton's Straight From The Barrel Bourbon

As mentioned in the last post, there are bourbons available in Japan which are not easy to get in the U.S. Of all of them, Blanton's Straight From The Barrel is the one Americans are missing out on the most. For $65 US a bottle, you get Blanton's quality at around 65% a.b.v. If there's a better barrel-proof bourbon, I haven't tried it yet.


  • 128.8 proof - 64.4% a.b.v.
  • For Japan and European Market
  • Single Barrel

Reddish-brown, similar in color to Aberlour A'bunadh

Dark fruits, lavender, hickory, oak, tobacco and a hint of chocolate

Immediate delivery, spicy and intense, enveloping sweetness, cinnamon, butter and oak

Long and hot, smoky chocolate, dried fruits

Overall: Not very complex, but full-bodied and delicious. An excellent-quality barrel-proof bourbon. A definite cut above Booker's Bourbon. If you can get your hands on this in the United States for under $80, it's definitely worth purchasing.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Evan Williams 12 Year Old Bourbon

Apparently, Evan Williams 12 Year Old Bourbon is a distillery-only bottling in the U.S. and goes for around $130 in the gift shop. Having paid way too much on several occasions for bottles I was keen to try, I have a good idea of how it feels for most of those who pick this one up in Kentucky, get home, open it, drink a glass, and think, Man, this is good, only to then glance at the receipt and think, But, $130?!...

Ignoring the price, EW 12 is a very good bourbon. It takes a little time in the glass to open up, but when it does, it's a beauty. Now, I've never been to Kentucky, though I would love to visit some day, but I have picked up a few bottles of EW 12. And, I'll be buying many more over the years, if they remain available.

And, I'll be paying around $22 US per bottle because that's what it sells for here in Tokyo where it's widely available. It might not have the wax-dipped neck the distillery bottles have, but if I save $108, I can live without it.

Name: Evan Williams Aged 12 Years
Strength: 101 Proof - 50.5% ABV
SRP (Japan): $22 - $27 US


Subtle yet savory, slightly complex, hickory, vanilla, dark fruits and brown sugar

Sweet and spicy, cinnamon and clove, vanilla and salty caramel, lip-tingling

Longish with lingering spices and savory notes. Stays with you long after the glass becomes empty

Conclusion: I tried to think of just what this bottle would be worth to me if I weren't able to get it at such an excellent price here in Japan and I guessed around $40 US, tops. Of course, you never know what you'll pay until you're forced to make a decision, so take that with a grain of salt. At $22 a bottle, this is absolutely the best value in bourbon around for me, and considering my daily drinkers are typically $25 US and under, you can see how this one is easily my best daily-drinker bourbon.

If Evan Williams 12 Year ever becomes either overpriced or unavailable here in Tokyo, or I end up back in the US at some point, the loss of EW 12 as a daily drinker will go to the top of my list of whisk(e)y lamentations.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On The Way 2015: Chichibu Ichiro's Malt

As is well known by now, getting your hands on a bottle of a new Ichiro's Malt release at the original retail price is a formidable task. Unless you have connections, you're likely to not even know about a new release until all bottles have hit the secondary market. As I refuse to buy any of these whiskies from resellers at prices inflated as they are now, I've come to terms with the fact that I won't be able to put a bottle of each release up on my shelves. When I saw the release announcement on Facebook last week for the 2015 version of Chichibu Ichiro's Malt On The Way, I heaved a sigh of exasperation and lamented another chance lost; for the last Ichiro's Malt release I was able to buy (The Peated 2015), the Facebook announcement came after they'd already gone to resellers. Nevertheless, on the off chance that maybe Venture Whisky had changed the timing of their release announcements, I inquired at Tanakaya about availability and actually got a promising response from the guy who runs the place; "Next week it seems," he said, and I knew I was going to likely be coming back every day the following week.

On Monday, I showed up and there was a new shipment of Ichiro's Malt in, Double Distilleries and MWR, their standard Malt Blends. Sure that the manager had misunderstood my inquiry and had given me information about the standard Malt Blend shipment, I decided to give up. On the way out, I asked their whisky specialist if she knew anything about the new Single Malt release, and in her usual fashion said, "We get it in when we get it in..."

Fuck it. I left planning to not worry about Ichiro's Malt anymore.

But, as luck would have it, I needed some beer for the bar and stopped in at Tanakaya yesterday. And, sure enough, there were a few bottles of On The Way on the shelf. I grabbed the one bottle I was allowed and thought positively of the manager, who did me a solid by telling me the truth. Their usual policy is to just say they don't have any information, even though we all know it's bullshit. This time, however, he was straight with me. I feel better about Tanakaya now...

Note: The outturn on this one is over 10000 bottles, which is twice the usual amount, so it might be easier to get a bottle in Japan at the original selling price, around $72 US.