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Hanyu Distillery was located in a town of the same name, 70 kilometres north of Tokyo. The original company was founded from a family business originally established in 1626 by the Akuto family, sake makers in the town of Chichibu. In 1941 Isouji Akuto, representing the 19th generation of the Akuto family, built a factory in Hanyu to produce alcohol and obtained a licence to do so in 1946. In 1980, serious attempts to produce whisky of the Scottish type began and two pot stills were obtained. However by 2000 the business was in trouble and the Akuto family decided to sell, but the new owners did not show any interest in producing whisky. Thus the distillery closed in 2000 and was subsequently dismantled. Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the founder, acquired 400 casks of the remaining whisky stock and has been releasing them ever since. This particular expression was distilled in 1991 and bottled in 2011 from cask #5722.
The nose is sweet and rich in flavours of dried fruits. First there are figs and prunes, followed by orange peel and a hint of chocolate. With water the nose gets softer, with vanilla and raisins taking the lead.
The palate is quite creamy and very sweet. The figs and prunes are back, this time accompanied by caramel and lemon biscuits. The addition of water mellows it all, and now there are oranges, raisins and a whiff of cinnamon.
The finish is of medium length, warming, and spicy. Vanilla and oak flavours carry the day.
This is another excellent Hanyu, not quite as impressive as the 23-year old bottling that was released in 2010 but still a very elegant, well balanced and rich single malt.