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Hanyu Distillery was founded in 1941 by Isouji Akuto, a descendant of a long line of sake producers. Located north-west of Tokyo in Saitama prefecture, Hanyu distillery was built in the city of the same name, and is surrounded by vast rice fields supplied with river Tone water.
In 1980 the distillery started the production of single malt whisky, with the purchase of two Scottish pot stills. Success, however, eluded this distillery and it stopped producing whisky in 2000 and completely dismantled in 2004.
Remaining stocks previously stored on the site, were recovered by Ichiro Akuto (grand-son of the founder of Hanyu) assisted by a sake-maker Sasanokawa Shuzo, and were kept there until 2008 when they were transferred to Chichibu, a new distillery founded by Ichiro Akuto.
The spirit inside this bottle was distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2010 after being finished off in French Oak. My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 46%
Nose: Bourbon. Vanilla. Nuts. Chocolate. Red berries. Grapes. Hint of oak. Spices. Becomes crisp over time. Earthy with a hint of something sour. The French Oak really let's itself be known thanks to all the spices.
Palate: Spices. Coffee swirl. Chocolate. Oak. Peaches. Earthy. Dry leaves. Dry fruits. Nuts. It threatens to become complex but then chooses not to. The oak is a bit much for me here.
Finish: Medium. Coffee. Spices. And that damn oak again.
Overall I feel this is a decent little nip even if the oak has decided to overpower proceedings. And one can overlook minor flaws when tasting a piece of history.