The Mars Whisky Distillery in Japan.

In the West, whisky is typically associated with quiet solitude and as something to be savoured after dinner. In Japan, drinking whisky is part of a very different social culture that encourages enjoying it with others and pairing it with food. Due to some unique production characteristics, Japanese varieties are particularly suited to being paired with a meal. You may have heard of Japan’s two prominent distilleries – Suntory and Nikka – but it’s the well-established Mars that is getting particular interest with their small-batch, artisanal craft whiskies they are producing and releasing in the Australian market.

Located between Japan’s soaring Southern Alps and the towering Central Alps, at just over 800m, Mars Shinshu is Japan’s highest whisky distillery. Its high altitude ensures exposure to a short, warm summer (up to 33°C) that impacts the whisky’s colour and flavour, and a long, cold autumn/spring period, with temperatures reaching as low as -15°C, that prolongs the maturation process. The Mars Shinshu distillery in the Southern Alps is also known for its water purity, which affects almost every aspect of the whisky’s character – making it sweeter and lighter than its Scottish counterpart and providing characteristics that don’t overpower the flavours of food pairings.

We are excited to be releasing several limited-edition whiskies from the Mars Distilleries, including the Mars Whisky Single Malt Komagatake Wine Cask Finish, produced in collaboration with Margaret River’s Voyager Estate. It’s the second collaboration between the two brands, with only 640 bottles available in Australia. The whisky has an elegant, smooth mouthfeel with a grapefruit character, a long viscous umami finish and well-balanced sweetness. The oak cask used to age the whisky was previously used to age Voyager Estate’s flagship red wine (MJW Cabernet Sauvignon) and has lent the whisky a pale red rose colour, and an aroma of grape, berry, and pomegranate.

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Yukino Ochiai of Deja Vu Sake.