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Kioke Shikomi is a ‘Pure Malt’, meaning that it does not contain any grain whisky. Arguably, the malt whisky is all Hakushu – at least that is what is claimed by a number of Japanese whisky bloggers. Production seems to have stopped in 1999, and it has now become increasingly rare. An appropriate translation of ‘Kioke Shikomi’ is “matured in a wooden tub”, which is interesting because of the connotation of a ‘kioke’ with a tub used for making sake.
The nose is light, malty and nutty. There are vegetal elements that I find hard to identify – cabbage and leek? Quite complex and multi-layered, although the malty, cereal notes are towering over it all. Light and complex at the same time – I have not encountered this too often.
The palate is medium-bodied and quite spicy, surprisingly so given the low ABV. Grassy and vegetal flavours make an appearance, accompanied by white pepper. Not bad, in fact not bad at all, but somehow a bit weird.
The finish is short, spicy and peppery. Certainly the weakest part of this whisky.
I find it difficult to do this whisky justice. The nose was interesting and fun, and I really had a good time exploring this. In comparison the palate was less refined but still satisfying, whereas the finish was really short and slightly disappointing. This is a weird animal! Was I offered another dram I would accept immediately, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to taste this. Many thanks for the sample, Clint A.!