Brandy, 'Hoken - 30 Year', Mars Shinshu
The Hombo family, founder of Mars, began producing shochu in 1909, expanding their portfolio over the years to eventually include their most popular product, whisky. They obtained their whisky license in 1949 with the help of their advisor, Mr. Kiichiro Iwai, an icon in the rise of Japanese whisky.
Currently, Mars has two distilleries and an additional aging site. Mars Shinshu, the main distillery, is tucked away at 2,625 ft in the Nagano Alps, making it Japan’s highest whiskey distillery. Nagano’s heavy snowfall and temperate climate provide an abundance of soft and delicate glacier water for use in this dynamic range of both blended and single malt expressions.
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Though Skurnik makes regular reference to Mars Shinshu Distillery and its prized Japanese whiskies, many may not be aware that the Hombo family also runs Mars Winery, located in Yamanashi, the heart of Japanese wine country. It’s from this location that ‘Delaware’ grapes, a variety native to Japan, were harvested for this unique brandy. Make no mistake—aged brandy of this type is not something common to Japan!
This brandy, named ‘Hoken’ after one of the major peaks of the Central Alps in Nagano, was distilled in 1987 and aged for over thirty years in American oak casks. Five casks were used in the final blend, which after minimal filtering, was rested in bottle for one year prior to release. Apricot, white pepper, and nutmeg enticingly welcome on the nose followed by a ripe palate of cinnamon, raisin, and almond with a long and slightly spicy finish. An extremely rare, one-off item! 58% ABV