[Review] MARS The Y.A. #01

MARS The Y. A.” was born as a new whiskey brand specializing in “Yakushima-aged malt whiskey”.


It is made from malt distilled at the Mars Shinshu Distillery and the Mars Tsunuki Distillery. This blended malt whiskey is matured in the Yakushima Aging Cellar, which was newly established in June 2016 on the island of Yakushima, a World Natural Heritage site and the highest island in Kyushu, Miyanoura-dake, which is located approximately 60 km southwest of the Kagoshima mainland and is said to be the Alps floating above the sea. The “Yakushima Aging Cellar” is located in the Yakushima Densetsu Kan, a shochu brewery owned by Hombo Shuzo on Yakushima. It was built to store the original whiskey.

MARS The Y.A. #01″ is officially labeled as the first release, so it will be interesting to see how the series will develop in the future.

1. Manufacturer

Hombo Sake Brewery Co.

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

2. Distilleries owned

Mars Shinshu Distillery

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

In 1949, Hombo Shuzo, which had been striving to make shochu, a Japanese distilled spirit, in Kagoshima, obtained a license to produce whiskey. Since then, the company has held on to the dream of “someday making real whiskey that takes full advantage of the Japanese climate.
After several years of whiskey production in Kagoshima, in 1960, he established the Mars Yamanashi Winery, a factory for wine and whiskey production in Yamanashi. Then, in order to engage in whiskey production in earnest, he searched for an even more ideal location.

The natural conditions for whiskey making are very demanding: cold climate with clean air, moderate humidity, and good quality water.
In 1985, after searching for land that met these conditions, Mars Shinshu Distillery was established at an altitude of 798m above sea level at the foot of Komagatake Mountain in the Central Alps, Nagano Prefecture, in search of the best environment for whisky making.
In 1992, distillation was halted due to a slump in demand for whisky. Later, as Japanese whiskey began to be appreciated worldwide, we decided to resume distilling in 2009, when demand for whiskey was on the recovery trend. The company re-started in February 2011.
In September 2020, it was completely renovated for the first time in 35 years. The investment is approximately 1.2 billion yen.


From May 2019, renovation of existing facilities and equipment, including a new whiskey distillation building (including a barrel cellar) for the purpose of renovating aging facilities and upgrading barrel cellar facilities with a view to increasing whiskey production, and for tours of whiskey making, and a visitor building for the purpose of selling original whiskey and merchandise.
The new whiskey distillation building has a total floor area of 1,996 m2 (including the barrel cellar, which will hold approximately 2,500 barrels), and the visitor’s building has a floor area of 746 m2.

Production capacity: 1.1 tons of malt per day
Production capacity of malt malt: 1.1 t/day (raw material malt); production volume: approximately 700 L/day, approximately 185 KL/year (planned for FY2020)
Main facilities: 1 malt crusher, 1 mash tun reuter (saccharification tank) 6KL, 3 stainless steel fermentation tanks 6KL, 3 Douglas fir wooden fermentation tanks (relocated) 6KL, and a first distillation tank (relocated).

Reference: Hombo Sake Brewery official website

See also ↓ for information on Mars Shinshu Distillery.


Mars Tsunuki Distillery

Location 6594 Tsunuki, Kaseda, Minamisatsuma-shi, Kagoshima 899-3611
Start of operation 2016

Tsunuki”in Kaseda, Minamisatsuma City. Tsunuki” is located in a mountainous area full of greenery in the southwest of Satsuma Peninsula. Mars Tsunuki Distillery, the southernmost whiskey distillery on the mainland Tsunuki is located in a mountainous area full of greenery in the southwest of Satsuma Peninsula.

Tsunuki, located in the southwestern part of the Satsuma Peninsula, is in a long basin along the Kaseda River, a tributary of the Manose River. Surrounded by Mt. Kurata (475m) to the east and Mt. Nagaya (513m) to the west, the basin-like topography makes the summers hot and the winters cold, which are extremely severe in South Satsuma.
The area has a natural environment that is a “blessing from nature” with good water resources (Mt. Kurata spring water), and is known as “Tsunuki Mikan” (mandarin oranges) because of the effective use of the mountain slopes.
Blessed with a mild climate and good water resources, Tsunuki is the birthplace of the Honbo Sake Brewery. It has been more than 100 years since the brewery started making shochu using Satsuma sweet potatoes, one of Satsuma’s representative specialties.
Reference: Mars Tsunuki Distillery official website

3. product name and photo

MARS The Y.A. #01
MARS The Y.A. #01

created by Rinker
¥18,800 (2023/02/07 10:42:26時点 楽天市場調べ-詳細)

4. features

MARS The Y.A.” is a Japanese whiskey that has been matured in this unique environment. This first release is vatted mainly with malt whiskey distilled in Shinshu and Tsunuki and aged in bourbon barrels. Enjoy a bottle with a fruity aroma reminiscent of the tropics and a flavor reminiscent of the sea breeze from the coast with its raised coral reefs on the east side of the cellar, and feel the uniqueness of Yakushima Island.
This product conforms to the “Japanese Whiskey Labeling Standards” of the Japan Western Whiskey Brewers Association.
Reference: MARS The Y.A. #01|Honbo Shuzo Co.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaTropical fruits, vanilla
TasteHoney, vanilla from bourbon barrels, almond aroma
AftertasteOaky sweetness, lemon, and a hint of tartness on the lingering finish

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol Content52% alcohol by volume
By SakeBlended Malt
Barrel typeBourbon barrels, etc.
Content Volume700ml
Number of bottles soldLimited to 12,000 bottles
Suggested retail price9,900 yen (tax included)
Release dateLate June 2022

5. Awards

No awards received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Product nameMARS The Y.A. #01
Suggested Retail PriceTax included: 9,900 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is Around 12,400 yen to 30,000 yen (as of 7/4/2022). (*as of 7/4/2022)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auction

Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions is Lowest 13,500 yen, highest 16,000 yen, average 14,560 yen (*Statistics for the past 180 days from 7/4/2022)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

The price is also available on the mail-order site Around 19,800 yen The price of the item is also available on mail-order sites. (*As of 7/4/2022)

created by Rinker
¥18,800 (2023/02/07 10:42:26時点 楽天市場調べ-詳細)

6-5. Prices offered at BAR Shinkai

“BAR Shinkai” operated by this site offers 1 cup, 45ml: 2,970 yen, 30ml: 1,980 yen, 15ml: 990 yen.

7. Summary

If you want to enjoy the individuality of this whiskey, drink it straight, but this whiskey is also recommended with soda. The sweetness of honey, vanilla, a little bit of oak astringency, and a touch of saltiness give the whiskey a depth of flavor that is not simply an extension of what you get when drinking it straight.

As is true of all Hombo whiskies, the price of Hombo’s whisky is under 10,000 yen, while most Japanese whiskies nowadays are priced at 10,000 yen or more. And this quality. It must be the fruit of tireless corporate efforts. It is one of the distilleries that makes you want to support.


Please take a look at other articles about Hombo Brewery.

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
(2023/02/06 17:20:18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
(2023/02/06 18:33:30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
(2023/02/06 23:27:22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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