[Review] Akkeshi Single Malt Japanese Whisky Rittou

Akkeshi Single Malt Japanese Whiskey Rittou, the fifth in the Akkeshi Whiskey 24-Season Series, is available at.
It has been three months since the last blended whiskey shosho was released.

・The first release, Single Malt Whisky Kanro, is scheduled for October 28, 2020. 
・The second release, blended whisky Usui February 28, 2021.
・The third release, single malt Japanese whisky Boushu, will be released on May 28, 2021.
・The fourth blended whisky Shosho, will be released on August 25, 2021.
・The fifth single malt Japanese whisky Rittou, will be released on November 25, 2021.

This 24-season series will be released in alternating single malt and blended versions, and this time it will be a single malt release.
The year is divided into 24 equal parts and the seasons are named after them.
Rittou is the time between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, when there are still many signs of autumn, but the weather is steadily changing into winter. It is the time of the year when we feel the first signs of winter and the weather is finally getting colder.
This is the nineteenth day of the twenty-fourth solar term, and together with Risshun, Rikka, and Risshu, it is called “Shiryu”. From this day to the day before Risshun is considered winter in the calendar. In 2021, the first day of winter will be November 7, and the next day of winter will be November 22, which is the 20th day of the 24th solar term.
The package and label designs of Akkeshi Whisky have been calm and austere, but this one is very colorful and pop. The main event during the first day of winter is “Shichi-Go-San,” so the motif of the design is Chitose Candy.
The key malt is “Hokkaido malt” which is very exciting.

Image from: Akkeshi Distillery Official Facebook

1. Manufacturer.

Kenten Jitsugyo Co.

EstablishmentEstablished in 1982
Headquarters Location Imperial Hotel Tokyo, 1-1-1 Uchisaiwai-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0011, Japan
Owned distilleryAkkeshi distillery

2. Distillery

Akkeshi Distillery

Address109-2, Miyazono 4-chome, Akkeshi-cho, Akkeshi-gun, Hokkaido 088-1124, Japan
Start of operation October, 2016

2015 Start construction of the distillery.
2016 Started distilling in October.
2017 Completion of the second aging room.
2018 First product release as Akkeshi distillery in February. Third maturation cellar completed.
2020 Release of the first single malt whisky in February.
   Completion of the fourth maturation cellar in April.

   October The first release of the 24 Season Series.

Deep fog with tidal air, clean air, and abundant peat. We began distilling in 2016, believing that the climate of Akkeshi, Hokkaido, would create the unknown flavors of Japanese whiskey that we were seeking.
Just like the whisky making process on the island of Islay, we use water that passes through a layer of peat for the brewing water, and the whisky is matured day by day in the cool, humid, and sea breezes of “Akkeshi”.
The area around Akkeshi is rich in peat, which is essential for the flavoring of whiskey, and the varied topography of the sea, mountains, and marshland means that different flavors can be expected from each location where the peat is collected.

With a strong desire to produce whisky like Islay malt using traditional Scottish methods, we installed equipment made by Forsythe in Scotland. Forsythe’s craftsmen came to Japan to carry out all the work. The shape of the pot still is a straight-headed onion shape, similar to those of some distilleries in Islay. Heating is by a radiator system, the attached condenser is a shell and tube type and the mash tun is a semi-loiter type.
The fermentation tank (washback) is stainless steel, and we dare not adjust the temperature. The craftsman determines the timing of fermentation while letting nature take its course.

In addition to the two dunnage-type maturation chambers, an innovative rack-type third maturation chamber was completed in February 2018 right next to Akkeshi Bay, and a rack-type fourth maturation chamber will be completed on a hill overlooking Akkeshi Bay in April 2020. The aroma of the sea wafting through the air is expected to have a positive effect on the characteristics of the whisky.

In addition to bourbon and sherry barrels, we also use hard-to-find “mizunara” oak barrels. In addition to bourbon and sherry, we also use hard-to-find “mizunara” oak barrels, and we challenge all possibilities, such as matching with wine and rum barrels.
In addition, barley, the raw material for whiskey, is grown in Akkeshi, and all the barley, including peat and wooden barrels for aging, is produced in Akkeshi. As a new initiative, in August 2021, we will start a trial production of the original whiskey distilled at the Akkeshi Distillery. Maturing in Furano In August 2021, a new initiative was launched to test distilled spirits from the Akkeshi distillery. What kind of changes will be brought about by the undiluted whiskey matured in Furano? This is exactly the kind of terroir that takes advantage of not only the local Akkeshi but also the great character of Hokkaido. The idea of “Terroir” which wine connoisseurs have probably heard a lot about, has been incorporated into whiskey, and the fusion of the “character of Akkeshi” and the “character of Hokkaido” to create whiskey that takes advantage of the terroir of the land is fascinating, and the expectations are endless.

Lake Akkeshi and Bekanbeushi Marsh around Akkeshi Town are registered wetlands under the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention is a treaty on wetlands adopted in Ramsar, Iran on February 2, 1971, which aims to conserve and wisely use wetlands as habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife under international cooperation.
We aim to be a distillery that protects and coexists with this rich nature.
The intake for the drinking water used for whiskey is the Homakai River upstream of the Oboro River, which runs near the distillery. The area around the distillery is a marshland and a habitat for the baikamo, which is said to live only in clear streams. The small white flowers that bloom in the summer season are a symbol of the rich water. This water nurtures the whiskey of the Akkeshi region.

Reference: Akkeshi Distillery official website

See also this ↓ for more information on the Akkeshi Distillery.

3. Product name and photo

Akkeshi Single Malt Japanese Whisky Rittou

4. Characteristics

Mainly sherry barrels, key malt is “Hokkaido malt raw material” aged in Quercus barrels.
The key malt is Mizunara oak barrel-aged Hokkaido malt raw material distilled in 2018, and other wine barrels (Pinot Noir) aged in malt raw material also from Hokkaido are used to bring out the mellow and rich flavor. The key malt (in this case, Mizunara oak barrels) plays an important role in creating the character of the whisky, even if it is only a small amount.
It has a gorgeous sweetness and a chocolatey sweetness that you would expect from a sherry cask. The acidity of the fruit is also detectable, and the flavors change one after another in the mouth. The peat is a bit subdued this time, but you can feel the thick peat in the aftertaste.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaFloral, chocolate, orange
TasteCacao, brown sugar, fresh fruit acidity, mellow, full and rich.
AftertasteThe sweetness is followed by a hint of peat that is characteristic of Akkeshi.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content55%
ClassificationSingle malt whisky
Barrel typeQuercus, sherry, wine (Pinot Noir), etc.
Contents700ml
Number of bottles soldLimited quantity
Suggested retail price19,800 yen (tax included)
Release dateNovember 25, 2021

5. Awards

There is no award history at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product nameAkkeshi Single Malt Japanese Whisky Rittou
Capacity700ml
Suggested retail priceTax included: 19,800 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 90,000 yen

(*As of November 26, 2021)

6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

There are currently no items for sale on Yahoo Auction. (*as of November 26, 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

There seems to be no sales on mail-order sites at present (*as of November 26, 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At BAR Shinkai, which is operated by this website, it is offered in small quantities such as 1cup, 45ml: 5,610 yen 30ml: 3,740 yen, 15ml: 1,870 yen

7. Summary

The price increase of Akkeshi whisky was recently announced in an official comment on the Facebook page of Akkeshi Distillery.
The price increase is 3,300 yen for single malt and 2,200 yen for blended. The price of single malt will be 3,300 yen and blended will be 2,200 yen.
I know there are pros and cons to this, but considering the passion of the Akkeshi Distillery for whiskey making, the passion for us consumers, and the hard work that goes into pursuing the perfect flavor, I feel that it is unavoidable. The taste of the whiskey has been surprising every time it is released, and this time, Rittou was commercialized using full sherry barrels from the Akkeshi distillery. There is no other whisky released by craft distilleries these days that is mainly made from sherry casks.

The next release will probably be in February or March. If so, the name might be “Risshun”, “Keichitsu”, or even the premium “Shunbun”. The next release will be a blended whisky, and I can’t wait to see if it will be called “Shunbun” or not.

The Akkeshi Distillery’s future plans include cultivating barley, the raw material for whiskey, in the Akkeshi region, and producing all of its whiskey, including peat and wooden barrels for aging, in the Akkeshi region, with the aim of creating an “Akkeshi All Star” whiskey in the future.
This year, too, it seems that the sowing of Akkeshi barley was successfully completed in mid-May. It seems that preparations are steadily underway for the “Akkeshi All Star”.
They are also stepping up their efforts to use Hokkaido barley (Furano and Nakashibetsu) as a raw material, and although the Hokkaido barley they tested in 2018 cost more than twice as much as the Scottish barley and had an alcohol yield of about 80-90%, the flavors were Japanese (warm tangerine, roasted chestnuts, dense roasted sweet potato). From 2019, they will be producing about 10% of their barley from Hokkaido.

If you want to know more about the Akkeshi Distillery, it was featured on BS Fuji’s Whiskipedia in December 2020, so be sure to check out that distribution.
The program is not only about the charm of Akkeshi whiskey, but also about the nature of Akkeshi town, the fishery centering on oyster fishing, and the marriage of whiskey and oysters from Akkeshi.

■Please also check out other articles about “Akkeshi Distillery and Akkeshi Whisky”.

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
(2022/11/30 17:12:45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
¥1,294
(2022/11/30 14:30:43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
(2022/11/30 19:19:28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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