Mars Shinshu – Iwai Tradition (Blended whisky)

With the surge of Japanese whisky, and everyone so keen on owning a Japanese whisky, more brands are hopping on the Japanese trend bandwagon, and the latest addition to the local market is the Iwai Tradition, A blended whisky from the Hombo whisky house, which own two distilleries : Mars Shinshu and New Tsunuki. I’ve tasted some Mars malt some time ago, and they were decent enough, this one however is an entry-level sort of (not the very cheapest of the range, but still).  The whisky at hand is made from 25% Grain and 75% Malt, and has been aged in a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and wine casks. Not quite sure what’s the ratio of casks and maturation period, but as this is NAS, I would imagine it’s 3-5 years or so… The Israeli price is 270 NIS (which is quite more expensive from prices starting at $55 I’ve seen online) – Let’s figure out how the liquid fares…

Iwai Tradition , NAS , 40% abv 

Nose: Not a bad nose on this one for sure, quite meaty, and deep with BBQ sweetness, maple cinnamon – a bit bourbon-y, but gentler. Further nosing reveals some dried fruit, and more cinnamon. All in all a very rounded, and flattering nose, quite enjoyable.

Palate: The palate is something of a letdown, given the lovely nose : the young grain is quite evident, and the palate is a bit rough, and sharp, quite one-dimensional with a sweet, BBQ-ish notes, some sherry cinnamon and toasted oak. 

Finish : medium – short – with chocolate, cinnamon and bitter wood.

Bottom line:

A rather basic blend, not horrible bad, but you get what you pay for. A few year’s back you could have had a lovely Yamazaki 12 for $50, but times are a’ changing and currently with Japanese whisky prices, you will need to shell out more money to get a decent malt. I guess it’s a good option if you want to own a bottle of Japanese whisky which looks nice, and don’t care about quality as much. I’ll pass.

Score: 79/100


Available locally in Israel for 270 NIS, you can find it internationally at ~$55



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