[Review] MARSMALT Le Papillon C.brillantinus

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Hombo Shuzokomagatake Distillery

The “MARSMALT Le Papillon” series expresses the splendor of Japan’s seasonal climate and natural environment, which forms the environment in which whisky is matured, using butterflies that live in Japan as a motif.
This is the thirteenth in the series, and the theme is the “C.brillantinus”, which inhabits deciduous broadleaf forests in mountainous areas where trees of the beech family grow mainly. The image is based on the beautiful golden-green wings of the zephyrs, which are known as the “jewels of the forest”.

This single cask whisky is a gem of a single cask whisky, bottled at natural cask strength and non-chill filtered from the original malt liquor distilled in March 2015 and bottled in July 2022 at the Mars Shinshu Distillery.


1. Manufacturer

Honbo Brewery Co.

Established 1872
Head office location 891-0122; 3-27 Nanei, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
Owned distilleriesMARS Shinshu Distillery, MARS Tsunuki Distillery

2. Distilleries owned

MARS Shinshu Distillery

Location 4752-31 Miyada-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 whisky. Since then, the company has held on to the dream of “someday making real whisky that takes full advantage of the Japanese climate.”
After several years of whisky production in Kagoshima, in 1960, he established the “MARS Yamanashi Winery“, a factory for wine and whisky production in Yamanashi. Then, in order to engage in whisky production in earnest, he searched for an even more ideal location.

The natural conditions for whisky 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 798 meters 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 sluggish demand for whisky. Later, as Japanese whisky began to be appreciated worldwide, we decided to resume distilling in 2009, when the demand for whisky was on the recovery trend, and started distilling again in 2010. 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.

In May 2019, a new whisky distillation building (including a barrel cellar) was built to renovate aging facilities, improve the barrel cellar facilities with a view to increasing whisky production, and provide tours of the whisky making process, as well as a visitor building to sell original whisky and merchandise.
The new whisky distillation building has a total floor area of 1,996 square meter (including the barrel cellar, which will hold approximately 2,500 barrels), and the visitor’s building has a floor area of 746 square meter.


■Production capacity: 1.1 tons of malt per day
■Production capacity of malt malt: 1.1 t/day
■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 kettle (relocated).

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


3. Product name and photo

MARSMALT Le Papillon C.brillantinus
Marsmalt Le Papillon Single Cask C.brillantinus

4. Characteristics

Made from the same barrels used to mature plum wine. Matured for 7 years Single cask of non-peated original


Distilled at Mars Shinshu Distillery in March 2015. Matured for 7 years in empty casks used to mature Umeshu (plum wine) and bottled in July 2022. This single cask whisky is bottled at natural cask strength and non-chill filtered.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaSweet and sour aroma, plum, strawberry jam
TasteMellow mouthfeel, maltiness, sweet and tart, creamy
AftertasteSourness stands out, then changes to pleasant savory and bitter aftertaste, which lasts for a long time.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content59% alcohol by volume
DistillateSingle malt Japanese whisky
Cask typePlum wine cask (American white oak)
Content volume700ml
Number of bottles sold567 bottles
Suggested retail price13,200 yen (tax included)
Release dateSeptember 2, 2022

5. Awards

No awards received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Product nameMARSMALT Le Papillon C.brillantinus
Suggested retail price13,200 yen (including tax)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is Around 100,000 yen to 114,500 yen (*) The resale price on Mercari is (*as of 9/16/2022)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auction

Sold price on Yahoo! Auction was Lowest bid: 108,000 yen, Highest bid: 10,000 yen 6-4. Lowest bidding price on Yahoo! Auction: ¥108,000, highest bidding price: ¥108,898, average bidding price: ¥108,449 (*Statistics for the past 180 days from 9/16/2022)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

At this time, there are no mail-order sites that carry this product. (*As of 9/16/2022)

6-5.Prices offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, one glass is offered at 45ml: 3,960 yen, 30ml: 2,640 yen, and 15ml: 1,320 yen.

Information about “BAR Shinkai”
Japanese Whisky Dictionary operates three BAR Shingai stores in Minato Ward, Tokyo. In addition to the Japanese whiskeys introduced on this site, they also hand...

7. Summary

This Papillon series is a single malt whisky that is bottled in single and double casks, and the number of bottles sold each time is very small.

The resale price has also risen considerably, and the current bottle is currently being sold for more than 100,000 yen (Mercari, Yahoo! Auctions).


It has a taste that is hard to find in other whiskies.

The conclusion is that it is very tasty.

It has a mellow mouthfeel without feeling the 59% alcohol content. It is a non-peated whisky with no peculiarities, and you can fully enjoy the taste of plum wine barrel aging. It has a malty, sweet, sour, and astringent taste, all of which are well integrated. It is also delicious straight, but we prefer to enjoy it on the rocks like plum wine on the rocks.


Please check out our other articles on Hombo Shuzo.




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.

Misato Ushiwata

Born in Fukushima Prefecture.
She attended a university in Tokyo, where she studied brewing and other sciences while translating articles for the "Japanese Whisky Dictionary".

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Japanese Whisky Dictionary