[Review] The Lucky Cat Double Individuals Hana&Choco (Mars Whisky).

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Hombo Shuzo

The new limited series product ‘The Lucky Cat’ is released by Honbo Shuzo Mars Whisky.Features, price and how to buy.

The Lucky Cat is a series of blended whiskies produced using the blending techniques of Mars Whisky, with a motif of cats with rich individuality.

The Lucky Cat Double Individuals Hana & Choco, the ninth in the series, is based on the motif of the sisters Hana and Choco, who have different personalities and appearances, and is made with the taste derived from Oloroso sherry and wine casks and the taste brought by Spanish oak casks. The taste of the Oloroso sherry and wine casks and the taste of the Spanish oak casks make this blended whisky reminiscent of two sisters.

Lucky Cats of the past

  Product name Release date Number of bottles released Price (incl. tax)
1st release The Lucky Cat ‘Sun’ 25 September 2015 1,200 bottles 4,400 yen
2nd bullet. The Lucky Cat ‘Ash 99’ 25 August 2016 4,300 bottles 4,950 yen
3rd bullet. The Lucky Cat ‘Mint’ 10 November 2017 3,830 bottles 4,400 yen
4th bullet. The Lucky Cat ‘May’ 22 September 2018 3,387 pcs. 4,730 yen
5th bullet. The Lucky Cat ‘Hana’ 1 February 2020 3,000 bottles 4,950 yen
Vol. 6. The Lucky Cat ‘Choco’ 4 March 2021 6,700 bottles 4,950 yen
Seventh bullet. The Lucky Cat ‘Luna’ 30 Mar 2022 5,220 pcs. 4,950 yen
8th bullet. The Lucky Cat ‘May & Luna’ 24 February 2023 8,430 pcs. 5,280 yen
9th Bullet. The Lucky Cat ‘Hana & Choco’ 26 February 2024 7,920 bottles 5,720 yen

1. Manufacturer.

Honbo Brewery Co.

Established 1872
Head office address 891-0122; 3-27, Minamiei, Kagoshima, Kagoshima, Japan
Owned distilleries Mars Shinshu distillery, Mars Tsunuki distillery

2. Distilleries

Mars Shinshu Distillery

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

The Honbo Brewery, which had been working hard to produce the Japanese distilled spirit shochu in Kagoshima, obtained a licence to produce whisky in 1949. Since then, the company has held on to its dream of one day producing genuine whisky that makes the most 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. He then sought an even more ideal location to engage in whisky production in earnest.

The natural conditions for whisky production are very demanding: cold climate with clean air, moderate humidity and good quality water.
After searching for a site that met these conditions, the Mars Shinshu Distillery was established in 1985 at an altitude of 798 m at the foot of the Komagatake Mountains in the Central Alps, Nagano Prefecture, in search of the optimum environment for whisky production.
Distilling was suspended in 1992 due to a slump in demand for whisky. Later, in 2009, when Japanese whisky was beginning to be appreciated worldwide and demand for whisky was recovering, the distillery decided to resume distilling and started again in February 2011.
In September 2020, the distillery was completely renovated for the first time in 35 years. Investment amounted to approximately 1.2 billion yen.

From May 2019, renovation of existing facilities and equipment, including a new whisky distillation building (including a barrel cellar) for the purpose of refurbishing ageing equipment and improving the barrel cellar facilities with a view to increasing whisky production, and whisky production tours, and a new visitor building for the purpose of selling original whisky and goods.
The new whisky 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 building is 746 m2.

Production capacity: 1.1 t/day of raw malt.
Production capacity: approx. 700 litres/day, approx. 185 kl/year (planned for FY2020).
Main facilities: 1 malt crusher, 1 mash tun reuter (saccharification tank) 6KL x 1, 3 stainless steel fermentation tanks 6KL x 3, 3 Douglas fir wooden fermentation tanks (relocated) 6KL x 3, first distillation kettle (relocated).

Reference: Honbo Brewery official website.

See also ↓ for information on Mars Shinshu Distillery.

Shinshu Distillery | Japanese ...
Japanese Whisky Dictionary

3. product name and photograph

The Lucky Cat Double Individuals Hana & Choco

The Lucky Cat Double Individuals Hana & Choco

4. features.

Sisters Hana and Choco will be seven years old this April. Hana is a gentle sweetheart and Choco is an active wonder girl, but when they sleep together on a cold winter night, they are still sisters! The soft sweetness and fruitiness derived from Oloroso sherry and wine casks and the aggressive, structured taste of Spanish oak casks give this blended whisky a gentle older sister and a tomboyish younger sister.”

(Citation: Blended whisky|The Lucky Cat Double Individuals Hana & Choco|Honbo Shuzo Co.

A blended whisky that evokes two gentle older sisters and a tomboyish younger sister.

Soft sweetness and fruitiness from Oloroso sherry and wine casks, with an aggressive structure from Spanish oak casks.

4-1.Tasting notes.

Aroma. Dried figs, raisins, chocolate, spicy sweetness like cinnamon and cloves.
Taste. High cocoa, cinnamon, ginger syrup, woody and sweet.
Aftertaste Sweet and woody, quickly passing through the nose.

4-2.Product specifications

Alcohol content 43%.
By liquor Blended
Cask type Oloroso sherry, wine, Spanish oak casks and others
Contents 700ml
Number of bottles sold Limited edition of 7,920 bottles
RRP 5,720 yen (including tax)
Date of release 26 February 2024

5. Awards

No awards received at present.


6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product Name. The Lucky Cat Double Indivisuals Hana & Choco
Capacity. 700ml
Suggested retail price Tax included: ¥5,720

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale prices on Mercari arearound¥9, 900-10,000. (*As of 27 Feb 2024)

6-3.Sold prices on Yahoo auctions

The lowest bid price on Yahoo Auction was ¥9,300 and the highest ¥9,800 (*as of 27 Feb 2024).

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

Not currently identified on mail order websites. (*as of 27 Feb 2024)

6-5.Prices offered at BAR Shinkai

At BAR Shinkai, which is operated by this website, one glass is offered at 45 ml: 2,310 yen, 30 ml: 1,540 yen and 15 ml: 770 yen.

Information about “BAR Shinkai”
Japanese Whisky Dictionary operates three BAR Shingai stores in Minato Ward, Tokyo. In addition to the Japanese whiskeys...

7. Summary.

The Lucky Cat series has now reached its ninth product release. Following on from the previous round, the whisky has become a motif whisky of two cats. It is a typical Mars whisky with more grain and a little sweetness, and malt from a variety of casks.

It has a firm sweetness even when drunk with water, which softens the feeling of alcohol, making it a good choice for first-time drinkers.

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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.

Ryuhei Oishi

Bartender at bar Shinkai Toranomon, born in Hokkaido.
After working at a restaurant in Tokyo, became a certified sommelier by the Japan Sommelier Association.
I became interested in Japanese whiskey, of which he had little knowledge, and started working at bar Shinkai. I went to distilleries to talk to the distillers and joined JWD to share their passion and information as a bartender.

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