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- Brand: Mars
- ABV: 59.5%
Mars whisky is produced at the Shinshu Mars distillery located at 798 meters above sea level in Miyata village in the Japanese prefecture of Nagano. It was built in 1985 by its parent, Hombo Shuzo (“Hombo Brewing”) that is famous for their shochu and plum wines. Prior to 1985, Hombo's whisky operations had been at Kagoshima on the Southern Island of Kyushu and in Yamanashi where it had originally begun its whisky line in 1960. The distillery stopped whisky production in 1992 due to a decrease in demand; however production was resumed in 2011 following a recovery of the Japanese whisky market. This particular expression was distilled in 1986 and bottled in 2001 from cask #393.
The nose is rich and malty: Flavours of vanilla and oranges first come to the fore, followed by notes of lemon zest and chocolate. With water there are distinct cereal flavours, together with more vanilla, fudge, and more chocolate.
The palate is medium-bodied, spicy and oaky – clearly, this baby needs water! Adding water decreases the intensity of the palate and brings back the cereal flavours, followed by notes of vanilla and oranges.
The finish is long, warming and dry. Lemon and vanilla flavours last to the very end.
I consider this a pleasant Mars bottling from pre-closure times, with an elegant and refined nose and palate. Adding water is recommended, given the high ABV. This is now almost impossible to get – many thanks for the sample, Clint A.!