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- Brand: Mars
- ABV: 40%
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 10-year old expression is a “Pure Malt”, indicating that the whisky does not contain any grain whisky.
The nose is lightly fruity, with hints of apricot, mango and banana. These flavours are followed by honey, nuts and a touch of white wine. A nice maltiness covers the whole lot.
The palate is light-bodied, almost to the point of being watery. Vanilla is now taking center stage, and the panoply of fruits from the nose has all but vanished. The nuts are back in the game, and there is even a whiff of smoke. Towards the end tannic dryness creeps in.
The finish is of medium length, warming and a bit spicy – a graceful ending to this lightweight of a whisky.
While I liked the delicate and well-balanced nose, the palate was too watery for my taste. Bottling this at a higher ABV might have helped, but would hardly have made up for the lost fruitiness. This is not a bad dram, far from it, however it could have been much more impressive had the palate lived up to the nose.