Founded in 1952, Kumesen Syuzo produces a distilled spirit known as Awamori that is made entirely with rice and is unique to the Okinawa islands of Japan. It’s typically aged for just a few years and consumed at lower proof, but the distillery began experimenting with higher proof aging in ex-bourbon casks in 1989. The results are stocks of extremely old single grain whisky. The age and the American oak set this whisky apart from most of the other rice whiskies on the market because both create a depth and complexity that are not present in the younger products. Still lighter bodied than a single malt, but with a powerful nose of fresh spices, plum preserves, and candied mint. The palate is medium bodied with tons of wood spice and dense vanilla bean. The finish stays dry and warms up slightly to a long herbaceous finish. A welcome, if unusual, addition to the growing Japanese whisky category.
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