By Richard Thomas
Japanese Whisky burst into the global drinks scene only a few years ago, carried there on the backs of that country’s two major distillers, Nikka and Suntory. Since then, high demand has carried Japan’s smaller, lesser known distilleries to the forefront as well, and with what was a little known fact: not every Japanese Whisky follows the Scottish model of making malt and grain whiskies. Some instead rely on that most Asian of grains, rice.
Another little known fact is that some of those smaller Japanese distillers are actually quite old, and in the case of Ohishi, predate the big players in the Japanese whisky business by decades. Ohishi was founded in 1872, which probably explains the use of rice over malted barley and other grains. Two of their releases that were brought to the United States, however, were aged just like Western whiskies. In this particular instance, it’s Sherry cask-aged and bottled at 42.3% ABV.
This Sherry cask rice whisky has a dull, reddish amber coloring in the glass, and left a viscous, heavy coat on the glass. It formed a few beads around the crown, and only slowly and reluctantly dropped a couple of legs.
The nose, however, was quite airy. The scent carried plenty of Sherry and cake spices, with just a little earthy fudge and a tinge of wood.
The palate mirrors what the look and smell have told me so far. The flavor is light, mostly with raisins and rose water, a dash of cinnamon and that tinge of wood again. Yet that is in a heavy, oily liquid. The finish is a bit spicy and a bit wine-ish, light, and fades away fast.
Expect to pay $75.