[Review] Single Malt Komagatake Yakushima Aging 2021

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
komagatake Distillery

Single Malt Komagatake Yakushima Aging is a single malt whisky distilled at the Mars Shinshu Distillery and aged in the Yakushima Aging Cellar, which was newly established in June 2016 on Yakushima Island, a World Natural Heritage Site

and an island known as the Floating Alps on the Sea. It is a single malt whisky matured in the Yakushima Aging Cellar, which was newly established in June 2016. The “Yakushima Aging Cellar” is attached to the “Yakushima Museum” , a shochu brewery owned by Hombo Shuzo in Yakushima. It was built to store the raw whisky.

For this fourth installment, we vatted mainly malt whisky that had been aged in bourbon barrels for three to five years.
The malt is aged in Kyushu’s highest mountain, rich forests, beautiful ocean, clean water, and a cool and humid climate with lots of rain. Obviously, the maturation of the raw malt produced in such an environment progresses faster than in Shinshu, and the fruity and matured feeling comes out without waiting three years.
The distillation is done in Shinshu, and the aging is done in Yakushima. The sense of maturity achieved by this process can be said to be a symbol of the unique whisky making process of Hombo Shuzo.


1. Manufacturer

Hombo 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 operation1985

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 whisky. Since then, the company has been holding onto the dream of one day producing a genuine whisky that takes advantage of the Japanese climate.
In 1960, after several years of whisky production in Kagoshima, he established the Mars Yamanashi Wineryin 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 whisky. 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: Hombo 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)

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


3. Product name and photo

Single Malt Komagatake Yakushima Aging 2021

4. Characteristics

Image exhibited by Honbo Shuzo official website


Mainly malt liquor aged in bourbon barrels for 3 to 5 years.

It has a dense sweet aroma reminiscent of vanilla, a strong sweet fruit aroma reminiscent of banana, and an earthy, smoky smoky flavor derived from peat that follows. This is a complex and well-balanced single malt whisky with a sweetness unique to bourbon barrels and a sweetness reminiscent of ripe fruit, and a strong sense of peat.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaA sweet aroma reminiscent of vanilla and tropical fruits, and a sweet aroma derived from bourbon barrels that changes to a slightly smoky, smoky aroma.
TasteSmooth on the tongue, with the mild sweetness of maple syrup and fruit in the forefront. The peat comes into play later on in the taste.
AftertasteA soft, earthy, smoky flavor gradually passes through the nose.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol Content56%
By liquorSingle Malt
Barrel typeBourbon barrels, etc.
Number of bottles soldLimited to 5,208 bottles
Suggested retail price9,680 yen (tax included)
Release dateMarch 22, 2021

5. Awards

There is no award history at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product nameSingle Malt Komagatake Yakushima Aging 2021
Suggested retail priceTax included: 9,680 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 13,000 yen to 19,000 yen. (*As of April 8, 2021)

6-3. Yahoo auction bidding prices

The current prices on Yahoo Auction are as follows: Lowest price: 10,000 yen, Highest price: 17,000 yen, Average price: 13,369 yen.(*as of April 8, 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

The price on Rakuten is 24,800 yen, and the price on Yahoo Shopping is 18,000 yen. (*as of April 8, 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At BAR SHINKAI, which is operated by this website, one cup, 45ml: 2,970 yen, 30ml: 1,980 yen, 15ml: 990 yenis offered.


7. Summary

The freshly poured scent didn’t seem very sweet, but when I smelled it after a little while, it stood out with a sweet aroma all at once.
The moment I put it in my mouth, I can feel the sweetness in the forefront, but gradually the smoky smokiness comes out. It’s not a rough, tidal peat like Islay, but more of a mature, earthy, smoky smoky flavor.
The sweetness of the bourbon barrel and the fruity sweetness are intricately intertwined, and the smoky flavor finishes it off.
Although the alcohol content is 56%, it is not that strong, and it is easy to drink with the impression that the whisky gradually disappears with the sweetness on the tongue.
If you add a little bit of water, the sweetness hides a little bit and the smoky flavor rushes in at once, but it’s not too strong and the peat is just right, so you won’t feel anything bad at all.
However, the peat is not too strong, so it is not unpleasant at all. If you want to drink the sweetness slowly and for a long time, I recommend drinking it straight or on the rocks.
If you want to feel the smoky flavor, try drinking it with a little water or soda.

Speaking of Hombo Shuzo, the Mars Shinshu Distillery is famous for its blended whisky “Iwai Tradition” and single malt “Komagatake” , but recently the company has been releasing whiskys from the Tsunuki Distillery one after another, such as “Tsunuki The First” and “Tsunuki Peated” . The distillery has been producing high quality Japanese whiskys.
Hombo Shuzo has two distilleries and three cellars. This is one of the strengths of Hombo Shuzo, which has two distilleries and three cellars, and is characterized by the fact that the taste of the whisky differs depending on whether it is aged in Shinshu or Yakushima, even if it is distilled at the same time under a special environment like the Yakushima Aging Cellar.

Both the Mars Shinshu Distillery and the Mars Tsunuki Distillery are currently open for distillery tours, although there are some restrictions, so if you are interested, why not visit them?

To apply for a tour of the Mars Shinshu Distillery, click here↓↓↓
Factory tour / MARS Shinshu Distillery

Click here to apply for a tour of Mars Tsunuki Distillery ↓↓↓
Plant tour/MARS Tsunuki Distillery

Please check out the other articles about “Honbo Shuzo Single Malt Komagatake” .




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 whisky 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 whisky 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 whisky? 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 whisky 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.

新海 博之

Born July 17, 1981 in Kitahiroshima City, Hokkaido, Japan
After graduating from university, joined NTT Data Customer Service Corporation as a new graduate.
2010: Opened "Azabujuban BAR Shinkai" → 2016: Developed specialty "Yakuzen Curry" → 2018: Opened "Toranomon BAR Shinkai" and in 2019 "Shibadaimon BAR Shinkai" → 2020: Started web media "Japanese Whisky Dictionary".
We will daily communicate the appeal of Japanese whiskey as something we, as bartenders, can do.

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Japanese Whisky Dictionary