[Review] Mars Whisky Asagi-Madara

Malus Shinshu Distillery 35th Anniversary Memorial Whiskey. Limited quantity.
In September 2020, the Mars Shinshu Distillery will undergo a complete renovation after 35 years since its establishment. This premium whiskey was created to commemorate the completion of this project.

1. Manufacturer

Honbo Shuzo Co.

Establishment 1872
Head office location 3-27, Minamisakae, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, 891-0122, Japan
Owned distilleriesMars Shinshu distillery, Mars Tsunuki distillery

2. Distillery

Mars Shinshu distillery

Location 4752-31, Miyata-mura, Kamiina-gun, Nagano 399-4301, Japan
Start of operation 1985

It was in 1949 that Honbo Shuzo, which had been striving to make shochu, a Japanese distilled liquor, in Kagoshima, obtained a license to produce whiskey. Since then, the company has been holding onto the dream of one day producing a genuine whiskey that takes advantage of the Japanese climate.
In 1960, after several years of whisky production in Kagoshima, he established the Mars Yamanashi Winery

in Yamanashi, a factory for wine and whisky production. Then, in order to engage in whisky production in earnest, they searched for an even more ideal location.

The natural conditions for whisky production are very severe, including a cold climate with clean air, as well as moderate humidity and good quality water.
After searching for a site that met these conditions, we opened the Mars Shinshu Distillery in 1985 at an altitude of 798 meters at the foot of Mount Komagatake in the Central Alps of Nagano Prefecture, in search of the best environment for whisky production.
In 1992, the distillery stopped distilling due to sluggish demand for whiskey. Later, as Japanese whisky began to be appreciated worldwide, the demand for whisky began to recover in 2009 .
In September 2020, the distillery will be completely renovated for the first time in 35 years. The investment will be approximately 1.2 billion yen.

From May 2019, the whisky distillation building (including barrel storage) will be newly constructed for the purpose of renovating aging facilities, building barrel storage facilities with an eye to increasing whisky production, and observing whisky production, and the visitor building will be newly constructed for the purpose of selling original whisky and goods, and existing facilities and equipment will be renovated.
The new whisky distillery building has a total floor area of 1,996 square meters (including a barrel storage room that will hold approximately 2,500 barrels), and the visitor building has a floor area of 746 square meters.
Reference: Honbo Shuzo official website

■Production capacity: 1.1 tons of raw malt/day

■Brewing capacity: approx. 700 liters/day, approx. 185 kl/year (planned for FY2020)
■Major equipment: 1 malt grinding machine, 1 mash tun reuter (saccharification tank) 6KL x 1, stainless steel fermentation tanks 6KL x 3, Douglas fir wooden fermentation tanks (relocated) 6KL x 3, first distillation kettle (relocated)

https://www.hombo.co.jp/company/kura/shinshu.html
Image credit: Mars Shinshu Distillery official website

For more information about Mars Shinshu Distillery, please see here↓

3. Product name and photo

MarsWhisky Asagi madara

4. Characteristics

Japanese blended whisky aged for 8 years

MARS WHISKY Asagi-Madara” is a memorial bottle of malt whisky distilled in the first pot still in Shinshu and blended with Japanese grain whisky also distilled in Shinshu and aged for more than 8 years. It has a refreshing aroma and taste reminiscent of the forests in the foothills of the Central Alps that surround the distillery.
The picture on the label is of a butterfly called “Asagimadara” that visits Miyata village in Minami-shinshu, where the distillery is located, around September every year.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaRefreshing and gentle sweetness with a hint of Apples and plums.
TasteSweet and sour with a hint of vanilla sweetness and a light peaty finish.
AftertasteVanilla sweetness followed by a hint of savory notes.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol Content48% alcohol by volume
alcohol categoryBlended Whisky
barrel type
Contents700ml
Number of bottles sold
Suggested retail price6,380 yen (tax included)
Release dateSeptember 23, 2020

5. Awards

There is no award history at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product nameMars Whisky Asagi-Madara
Capacity700ml
Suggested retail price6,380 yen (tax included)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 10,000 yen to 13,000 yen. (*As of April 6, 2021)

6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

The current price on Yahoo Auction is 8,750 yen at the lowest, 15,000 yen at the highest, and 10,529 yen at the average(*as of April 6, 2021).

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

Mail order sites also sell them for around 15,000 to 18,000 yen. (*As of April 6, 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR SHINKAI

At “Bar Shinkai”, which is operated by this website, a singleglass is available for 45ml: 2,310 yen, 30ml: 1,540 yen, 15ml: 770 yen.

7. Summary

First of all, please enjoy the aroma straight. When watered, the sweetness of cinnamon and fruit aroma spreads at once.
On the rocks, the sweetness closes down a bit, but the taste changes to a deep flavor like burnt butter and toast.
No matter how you drink it, you will enjoy it because it has a basic gentle sweetness.
It is a limited edition bottle and has already sold out, so it is being sold at a pre-sale price online.

Please check out the other articles about Honbo Shuzo.

Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky

If you want to learn more about Japanese whisky, which is a global trend, we highly recommend these books.

(1).Whisky Galore Vol.29 December 2021 issue

In the December 2021 issue of Whisky Galore, published by the Whisky Culture Research Institute, we report on 11 Japanese craft distilleries, including some that are open to the public for the first time, under the title of “Japanese Whisky Craft Frontline,” the first of three consecutive issues. Why did the popularity of Japanese whiskey and the craft boom occur? We will examine with interviews. Chichibu Distillery / Chichibu No.2 Distillery / Mars Shinshu Distillery / Mars Tsunuki Distillery / Kanosuke Distillery / Hioki Distillery / Ontake Distillery / Osuzuyama Distillery / Kaikyo Distillery / Hanyu Distillery / Konosu Distillery

created by Rinker
¥1,320
(2022/06/27 01:21:38時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(2). Japanese Whisky as an Education for Business

This is a book written by Mamoru Tsuchiya, a world-famous whisky critic and representative of the Whisky Culture Research Institute, titled “Japanese Whisky as a Culture that Works for Business” .
The book covers the basics of whisky, the introduction of whisky to Japan, the birth of Japanese whisky, advertising strategies and the rise of Japanese whisky, and the current rise of craft distilleries. This is a book that summarizes Japanese whisky in a very easy to understand way.

(3). Whisky and I (Masataka Taketsuru)

Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, devoted his life to brewing whisky in Japan. This is a revised and reprinted version of the autobiography of a man who simply loved whiskey and talked about himself. The book vividly depicts the days when he went to Scotland alone to study as a young man and overcame many hardships to complete Japanese whisky, as well as his companion, Rita.

created by Rinker
¥786
(2022/06/27 04:16:59時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(4). A Letter of Challenge from a New Generation Distillery

Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whisky boom, what were the managers of craft distilleries thinking and what were their thoughts as they took on the challenge of making whiskey? This book tells the stories of 13 craft distillery owners, including Ichiro Hido of Venture Whisky, famous for his Ichirose Malt, who inspired the birth of craft distilleries in Japan.

created by Rinker
repicbook(リピックブック)株式会社
¥1,870
(2022/06/27 05:24:32時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(5). Whiskey Rising

This is the Japanese version of Whisky Risng, published in the US in 2016, with much updated content. Not only does it describe the history of Japanese whiskey in detail, but it also includes data on all the distilleries in Japan, including the craft distilleries that have been founded in recent years. The book also includes descriptions of the legendary bottles that have been released, as well as information on bars where Japanese whisky can be found.

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