Kaiyō Whisky- The Peated, Japanese Mizunara Oak – Review

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IMG_1077Proof: 92
Color: medium amber
Nose: vanilla, coconut, smoke, fresh cut wood
Taste: toasted almonds, smoke, burnt sugar, coconut
Finish: warm and long
Value: good

This is the third product by Kaiyō that I find myself seated before, having previously reviewed Kaiyō’s “Regular” offering and their Cask Strength.

And, I find myself holding and orange-labeled “First Edition” Kaiyō Whisky The PEATED.

Am I excited? (Did Hemmingway drink rum?)

Believe it or not, the first thing that sets this bottle apart from its siblings isn’t the peat. No no. The first thing is the aging process.  This beauty spends some of its time in the legendary, much-coveted Mizunara Oak casks; and also spends some time lounging in Madeira barrels. And yes, it matters.

As does the peat.
The Scots have been “peating” their barley (and whiskies) for ages. For them, it was a matter of using what’s available.  Part of the necessary malting process for barley to do its job in making whisk[e]y, involves drying & smoking the barley. Since Scotland has been using peat to generate smoke and heat for time immemorial, there was no reason not to use it when crafting malted barley. That signature peat scent & flavor bakes into the barley, and *bamf* goodness is achieved.

How do I feel about a product that doesn’t need peat having peat? Well, “Let’s not mince words™“:

Kaiyō Whisky The PEATED is a glorious addition to Kaiyō’s stable of products.

Personally, I am not a fan of over-peated whisky. Laphroaig? Yick. Caol Ila? Meh. Highland Park? Bleh.  Give me some complexity with my peat! Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Bruichladdich… all work for me because of their other qualities. The smoke is just an artifact, not the whole point.

And that is just one reason why Kaiyō Whisky The PEATED works.

Let’s talk scent, shall we? Yes, you will be greeted with a dose of peat smoke. This is to be expected. Surprisingly and much to my sheer joy, the smoke does not drown out the must-have exotic vanilla & coconut. Say what you will about Bunnhahabhain, but the smokiness still allows big dried fruit, honey, and toasted nut flavors through. So too, does Kaiyō The PEATED allow vanilla, coconut, and a fresh-cut cedar/oak note to caress your nostrils alongside peat smoke.

…this is why I am so happy.

The taste. Mild peat, roasted grains, dried stone fruit, toasted almonds, burnt sugar, and that glorious hint of coconut all dance across the palate. The time spent in the Madeira barrels had a definite positive impact. Yes, this is why I am so happy.

The finish is long, warm, and smooth. The tongue is left wanting more, and that’s a very good thing.

Honestly, I’m not sure that I’ve ever been this excited about a peated whiskey before. There are very few Scotch whiskies featuring peat that I get this elated about… and if Kaiyō The PEATED were a Scotch, it would be one of them. Regardless:

Final Rating: 94 out of 100