[Review] MOON GLOW Limited Edition 2020

Wakatsuru Shuzo uses only malt distilled in 1960 and other carefully selected raw spirits.  “Moon Glow” is the ultimate blended whisky that Wakatsuru Shuzo is aiming for at the moment.
Moon Glow Limited Edition will be commercialized in 2018. The release of Moon Glow, which has been aged for more than 10 years, is scheduled to end in 2020. From the next release onwards, it will be switched to non-aged due to a shortage of aged raw alcohol.

1. Maker

Wakatsuru Sake Brewery Co.

Establishment 1862
Head office 208 Saburomaru, Tonami-shi, Toyama 939-1308, Japan
Owned distillerySabromaru Distillery

2. Distillery

Saburomaru Distillery

Location 208 Saburomaru, Tonami City, Toyama Prefecture 939-1308, Japan
Start of operation 1953 (renovated in 2016)

The only distillery in Hokuriku, established in 1952.
With the shortage of rice after the war, they obtained a license to produce whisky in 1952. Since then, the distillery has been making sake in the winter and distilling whiskey only in the summer. The distillery is dedicated to producing smoky whiskey and uses only peated malt from England, which is rare in Japan. In order to preserve the natural flavor of the whiskey, no cooling filtration or coloring is used.

The main difference from other distilleries is the world’s first cast pod still. ZEMON, the world’s first cast pod still.
There are three major features.

(1) The casting method enables molding using a mold, making it possible to manufacture the product in a short period of time. Also, it is possible to make the product thick enough at a low cost, which is expected to increase the service life of the main body.
(2) Various liquor quality is realized by free molding by casting. In addition, it is possible to replace only worn-out parts or expand functions by unitizing each part.
(3) Made from a copper-tin alloy that contains about 90% copper and 8% tin.
Tin is a high-grade metal that is traded at about three times the price of copper.
Since ancient times, tin has been used to make sake and shochu coolers, as it is said to mellow the taste of sake. ZEMON uses the dual benefits of copper and tin to produce high quality spirits. to the production of high quality spirits. It has been used for sake vessels and shochu coolers since ancient times.
Reference: Wakatsuru Sake Brewery official website

Image credit: Saburomaru Distillery Official Facebook

For more information about Saburomaru Distillery, please visit here ↓

3. Product name and photo

MOON GLOW Limited Edition 2020 

4. Characteristics

Multi-layered taste and complex aftertaste created by long years.

The key malt is Saburoumaru Distillery malt distilled in 1990, and only raw materials with more than 10 years of maturation are used. The mellow grain finished in red wine barrels and the sherry barrel malt that brings out the sweetness blend perfectly to create a gentle and smooth taste.
The multi-layered taste and complex aftertaste created by the long years of aging continues for a long time while playing in harmony.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaSoft woody and herbaceous with a hint of peat. Fruity acidity with hints of apple and orange peel.
TasteMild sweetness like candy or honey, dry peat, orange peel, a hint of spice and good tannins.
AftertasteSpicy and smoky aftertaste.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content43%
alcohol categoryBlended Whisky
Barrel typeRed wine barrels
Contents700ml
Number of bottles sold
Suggested retail price10,120 yen (tax included)
Release dateMarch 14, 2020

5. Awards

No awards have been received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

https://www.wakatsuru.co.jp/saburomaru/products/moonglow.php
Image from: Wakatsuru Sake Brewery official website
Product nameMOON GLOW Limited Edition 2020
Capacity700ml
Suggested retail price9,200 yen (tax included: 10,120 yen)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 7,000 yen to 8,500 yen (*As of February 14 , 2021)

6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

The winning bid price on Yahoo Auction is Lowest bidder: 5,450 yen, highest bidder: 7,800 yen, average bidder: 6,380 yen.

(*Statistics for the past 120 days since February 14 , 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

Mail order sites sell the product at the same price as the regular price, around 10,000 yen. (*As of February 14 , 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR SHINKAI

At “BAR SHINKAI” , which is operated by our website, we offer even small amounts such as 1 glass, 45ml: 2,970 yen, 30ml: 1,980 yen, 15ml: 990 yen  

7. Summary

I think this is a very well-balanced whisky that can be drunk in any way you like.
The more time passes after opening the bottle, the more it changes into a rich sweetness. I think it’s a good quality whiskey, but it’s not getting much attention among Japanese whiskeys these days, and I often see it lined up in department stores.
In 2020, the distillery will start distilling with peated malt from Islay, and it will be interesting to see if it will play a role in creating a more complex flavor with a different raw material. It is one of the distilleries that I am looking forward to seeing in the future.

Please check out the other articles about Saburomaru Distillery and Moonglow.

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
(2022/09/30 15:57:23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
¥825
(2022/09/30 11:34:57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
(2022/09/30 13:34:27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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