We’ve tried whiskies before that have a decidedly rummy character, an extra anejo tequila with a whisky-like aspect, but a whisky with a clear unmistakable sake stamp? This was a first.
This was also my first foray into Togouchi whiskies and what a surprise. While blended in Japan and clearly catering to the Japanese palate (plus the demand for whiskies from Japan globally), the new make spirit is not actually Japanese.
Instead, the whiskies are a blend of distilled Canadian grain and Scottish malt which is imported to Japan, then aged in primarily ex bourbon casks, diluted with water sourced from the Sandankyo National Park and blended by Chugoku Jozo‘s master blenders in Hiroshima prefecture.
What adds to the mystique is most (apparently not all!) Togouchi whisky is aged in barrels stored in a 361 meters long tunnel that was built for a railway in the 1970s but never used. This unique warehouse near the town of Togouchi boasts that it can maintain an optimal constant temperature around 14°C and 80% humidity.
As for the whisky we sampled, ‘Kawami’ means ‘supreme’ (or ‘height’) and was created as a limited edition non-peated expression for the French market.
Togouchi Kiwami 40%
What did we find?
- Nose – Very mild, think camomile tea or flowers, soft and gentle
- Palate – Not nearly as smooth as the nose suggested, had a raw ‘new make spirit’ feel yet oddly solid for a whisky that had such a light, bright nose. Some found the in your face ‘alcohol’ content a bit off-putting. For others the grain element was simply too pronounced.
- Finish – Was there one? We certainly didn’t find any
As we debated and attempted to distill the character of this unusual blend, we kept thinking of sake. No surprise, the Chogoku Jozo folks are better known for their sake and shochu with the Kawami specifically, in our ever so humble opinion, coming across as a whisky masquerading as sake.
In fact, when we were ready to move on to our next whisky, a few knocked it back like a shot and went “Wow!” Declaring this is THE way to have Togouchi Kawami.
PS… our host admitted to being a bit disappointed with the Kawami and pulled out a different Togouchi expression (suspect it was the Togouchi Premium) that was silky smooth, soft and an utter delight.
Want to learn more?
- JapaneseWhisky.com on Togouchi Naturalize Japanese Whisky
- Whisky Saga on how a Japanese whisky is from Canada + Scotland
- Nonjatta on other Togouchi whiskies available in Europe
Other whiskies sampled during our far east evening in Mumbai:
- The Nikka 12 Year 43%
- Yoichi Single Malt 45%
- Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask No B101124001A (Bottle 102 of 230) 58.6%
You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: