[Review] IWAI TRADITION Wine Cask Finish

It is a blended whiskey that was further aged (Finish) for more than a year by putting “Iwai Tradition” named after Kiichiro Iwai, who played a part in the creation of Japanese whisky, in empty barrels used in yamanashi Mars Walinary red wine. 

It is a blended whiskey with excellent cost performance that can feel the flavor of wine system firmly over the flavor + aftertaste of pete incense + sherry barrel raw sake by the synergistic effect of “wine cask finish” with pete aroma close to the scotch of “Iwai Tradition”.

Ripening the whisky of our own distillation in barrels where the wine of our company was laid is unique to Hombo Sake Brewery, which has two brands of “Mars Whiskey” and “Mars Winery” .

Iwai Tradition Wine Cask Finish is not sold all year round, and it seems that it is produced spots around spring and autumn.

1. Manufacturer

Hombo Shuzo Co.

Established 1872
Head office 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 operation1985

In 1985, Hombo Shuzo Co., Ltd. opened a distillery at 798m above sea level at the foot of Mt. Komagatake in the Central Alps of Nagano Prefecture in search of the perfect environment for whisky production (cold climate with clean air, moderate humidity, and good quality water). This place is cool, with deep fog, and the rain and snowmelt that falls on the 3000m mountains passes through the granite soil to become high quality water with natural minerals.

One day, I want to make a real whiskey that makes the most of Japan’s climate. The Mars Whiskey Mars Shinshu Distillery was built to realize the dream of Hombo Shuzo. Surrounded by the beautiful and deep green forest at the foot of Mount Komagatake in the Central Alps, the distillery stands in the silence of clean air.

Image credit: Mars Shinshu Distillery official website

For more information about Mars Shinshu Distillery, please visit here.

3. Product name and photo

IWAI TRADITION Wine Cask Finish

4. Characteristics

Blended whisky additionally aged in its own wine barrels.

“Iwai Tradition” is a blended whiskey that has been additionally matured (finished) for more than one year in barrels used for red wine at Mars Yamanashi Winery and Mars Hosaka Winery.
The result is an excellent product with an elegant softness on the palate, harmonized with the old wood scent of sherry casks and the sweet vanilla scent derived from wine casks, and the tannins and umami of red wine bring a good depth to the tone of the flavor.
Reference: Hombo Shuzo official website

4-1. Tasting Notes

NoseAromas of strawberry jam, chocolate, cookies, and wood with a hint of vanilla.
TasteMild on the palate, with a sweet, fruity berry flavor and a hint of tannins reminiscent of red wine.
AftertasteThe aroma of wood, weak peat, and a pleasant vanilla scent pass through.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content40%
alcohol categoryBlended Whisky
Cask typeSherry and red wine barrels
Volume750ml
Number of units sold
Suggested retail price2,750 yen (tax included)
Release dateAround 2013 (no official release)

5. Awards

No awards have been received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product nameIwai Tradition Wine Cask Finish
Volume700ml
Suggested retail price2,500 yen (tax included: 2,750 yen)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is Around 3,500 yen to 5,000 yen The resale price on Mercari is as follows. (*As of February 14 , 2021)

6-3. Yahoo auction bidding price

The winning bid price on Yahoo Auction is Lowest bidder: 2,000 yen, highest bidder: 4,680 yen, average bidder: 3,460 yen (*Statistics for the past 120 days as of February 14 , 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

On mail order sites, the price is the same as the list price. Around 4,000 yen to 7,000 yen (*Statistics for the past 120 days from February 14 , 2021) If you check regularly, you may be able to buy it at the regular price if your timing is good.

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

Bar Shinkai, which is operated by this site, offers it at 1 cup, 45ml: 1,210 yen It is available at.

7. Summary

I don’t feel the pungent aroma of alcohol.
The sweet aroma is not too strong, but it is elegantly fragrant and has a mild sweetness. It is really delicious.
The vanilla scent is also very strong, and you can enjoy the scent alone for a while.
The best way to drink it is straight. You can feel the solid, full-bodied wine flavor.
If you drink it as a highball, the fruity and sweet aroma will become weaker and the vanilla aroma will go away. In a highball, the fruity sweetness fades and the vanilla aroma disappears. The wine-cask flavor that I was so excited about is almost gone. This is a refreshing highball that is easy to drink, but try drinking it straight or with a little water to feel the red wine.
I think it is the strongest wine-cask whiskey in the world.

This is a great whisky to drink, and it is easy to drink.

■ Please also check out other articles about “Hombo Shuzo and Iwai Tradition” .

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

(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.

(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.

(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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