Hanyu Toa Shuzo Single Cask 957 Bottled 2014, 2000


The attack on the palate is very intense: spicy and savoury but with concentrated fruit notes as well. Chutney in liquid form, that’s what it is… fenugreek, coriander, cumin, ginger, tamarind, citrus fruits, cranberries, caramelized onions, mint leaves and much more. If you wait an hour or so, you’ll find yourself eating blood sausages with sour cherry sauce. What a delight for the senses. The finish is long and lingering on sweet-and-sour sauce (with pineapple chunks!), unripe peaches and macadamia nuts. As it fades, hints of gooseberry jam and fresh rhubarb emerge – a stunning afterglow. Water flattens the nose somewhat, but acts like a roving spotlight on the palate, heightening and intensifying elements left, right and centre. One of the great Hanyus from the final vintage.


The history of the Japanese whisky Hanyu dates back to the 1600s, with the Akuto family producing sake in the town of Chichibu. Many years later, in 1941, the company built a factory in Hanyu and received their licence to produce alcohol in 1946, under the eyes of Isouji Akuto. It was here that they started to produce whisky in the 1980s, and in the 1990s they released a single malt whisky. Sadly, production stopped in 2000 (coincidentally close to the time when Karuizawa, another renowned Japanese distillery stopped production too), and was finally closed in 2004.

However, the story of Hanyu doesn’t stop there. While much of the distillery was dismantled, Ichiro Akuto (Isouji’s grandson) managed to purchase the remaining stocks of Hanyu whisky and currently sells these through his own brand, Ichiro.


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