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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 is one of the oldest Hanyus to have hit the shelves to date. It was matured in sherry casks and was bottled at cask strength and released in 2010.
The nose is very sweet to begin with, almost syrupy. Then the high ABV makes itself felt, not overwhelmingly so but very distinctly. Once the initial alcohol assault subsides there are lovely notes of vanilla and biscuit. Adding water brings out hints of rubber, fudge, and more biscuit. Love this nose!
The palate is full-bodied and slightly spicy. Distinct rubber (in a good way) is followed by dark fruits and more vanilla. With water everything becomes a bit austere: wood spiciness is accompanied by wood shavings. Not bad, this palate, but it seems slightly imbalanced.
The finish is long, dry and very warming. Tropical fruits carry the day here – in short: wonderful!
This is a mighty Hanyu that I very much enjoyed. I truly loved the sweet nose and the long and luscious finish. The palate was good, too, but seemed to me to have some balance issues. No big deal but hey, this is a 23-year old whisky, so I expected a little bit more. Still, I am more than glad that I got the opportunity to taste this. Once again, many thanks for the sample, Clint A.!