Mars Iwai Japanese Whisky
The Mars distillery is very well regarded in Japan and is easily considered the "super third" after the famous Suntory and Nikka distilleries. They don't focus exclusively on traditional single malt and are prone to experiment. They only produce whisky in the winter months so production is very small. This one is produced on the traditional pot stills at Shinshu Mars which was hand crafted in the 1950s. It is an unusual blend of 70% corn 30% non peated malt.
The fat, wide stills produce a very weighty and complex spirit. Mars always delivers a rich texture and complex aromas. The special pot stills were moved to Mars' Nagano facility and repaired in the late 2000s. They were refurbished again in 2014. Hombo Shuzo, the owner of the distillery is one of Japan's top wine producers and therefore has access to a great number of cask types. The entry level Iwai is aged for 2-5 years in 100% ex-bourbon barrels. The whisky has a delicate nose of cinnamon and bruleed sugar. The palate shows gentle fruit and a complex flavor reminiscent of English breakfast tea.