[Review] MARS The Y.A. #03

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Hombo Shuzokomagatake DistilleryTsunuki Distillery

MARS The Y.A. #03 is now available from Hombo Shuzo. Review of the newest third release in the “Yakushima Aged Malt Whiskey” lineup.Features, price, and how to purchase.

Malt whiskey distilled at Mars Shinshu Distillery and Mars Tsunuki Distillery is used. This blended malt whiskey is matured in the “Yakushima Aging Cellar” newly established in June 2016 on the island of Yakushima, a World Natural Heritage site and an island known as the Alps floating on the sea, with Kyushu’s highest peak, Mt. Miyanoura, rising above the sea about 60 km southwest of the Kagoshima mainland. 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.

2. distilleries

2-1. Komagatake Distillery

The distillery is Mars Shinshu Distillery, located in Miyata Village, Nagano Prefecture.

The name has been changed to [Komagatake Distillery] since March 2024.

Distillery nameMars Komagatake Distillery
Location4752-31 Miyata-mura, Kamiina-gun, Nagano 399-4301
Start of operation1985

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 makes the most 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 whisky production in earnest, he searched for an even more ideal location.

The natural conditions for whiskey making are very demanding: a cold region with clear air, and blessed with moderate humidity and good quality water.
After searching for a site that satisfied these conditions, Mars Shinshu Distillery was established in 1985 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 whiskey. In 2009, when demand for Japanese whiskey was recovering and Japanese whiskey was gaining worldwide recognition, we decided to resume distilling and started again in February 2011.
In September 2020, the distillery underwent a complete renewal for the first time in 35 years. The investment will be approximately 1.2 billion yen.

From May 2019, renovation of existing facilities and equipment, including renovation of aging facilities, construction of a whiskey distillation building (including a barrel cellar) to increase whiskey production, and a visitor’s building to sell original whiskey and other goods.
The new whisky distillation building has a total floor area of 1,996m2 (including the barrel cellar, which will hold approximately 2,500 barrels), and the visitor’s building has a floor area of 746m2.
Reference: Hombo Brewery official website

Production capacity: 1.1 tons of malt/day
■Manufacturing capacity: approximately 700L/day, approximately 185KL/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, first distillation kettle (relocated)

For more information about Mars Komagatake Distillery, please visit

komagatake Distillery | Japane...
Japanese Whisky Dictionary

2-2. Tsunuki Distillery

Location6594 Tsunuki, Kaseda, Minami-Satsuma-shi, Kagoshima 899-3611
Start of operation2016

Tsunuki in Kaseda, Minamisatsuma City. Mars Tsunuki Distillery, the southernmost whisky distillery on the mainland, is located in the mountains 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 most popular specialties, and the brewery is now engaged in whiskey production in Tsunuki, where the tradition of sake brewing is handed down to the present.
Reference: Mars Tsunuki Distillery official website

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

Tsunuki Distillery | Japanese ...
Japanese Whisky Dictionary

Yakushima Aging Cellar from Hombo Sake Brewery official YOUTUBE

3. photos of the bottles and the website where you can buy them

MARS The Y.A. #03
MARS The Y.A. #03

マルスウイスキー(本坊酒造)MARS The Y.A.#02[屋久島エイジング]ブレンデッドウイスキー 700ml 化粧箱付き アルコール度数49%

Features of MARS The Y.A. #03

Yakushima, a World Natural Heritage island, is located about 60 km southwest of the Kagoshima mainland.
Mars Yakushima Aging Cellar is located on this island, which is blessed with steep mountains and abundant water.

MARS The Y.A.” is a Japanese whiskey that has been aged in this unique environment.

It is mainly vatted with malt whiskey distilled at Komagatake and Tsunuki and aged in bourbon barrels.

It has an aroma of citrus fruits grown in the tropical sun, and a minerality and fullness reminiscent of the magnificent sea that surrounds the island,
It is a bottle that makes you feel the southern island of Yakushima.

This product conforms to the “Japanese Whiskey Labeling Standards” of the Japan Western Whiskey Brewers Association.

(Reference: )MARS The Y.A. | Hombo Shuzo official website (hombo.co.jp )

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaFresh tangerine, tidal minerality, salt rusk,
TasteFresh citrus, grilled corn, slight cinnamon sugar
AftertasteRefreshingly sweet, leaving a salty, savory aftertaste

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content51% (with a slight alcohol content)
alcohol categoryBlended Malt Japanese Whiskey
Barrel typeMainly Bourbon Barrel
Number of bottles sold8,500 bottles
Suggested Retail Price10,450 yen
Release dateApr. 2024

5. Awards

No awards received at this time.

6. List Price and Online Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Product NameMARS The Y.A. #03
Suggested Retail Price10,450 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around14,400-15, 000 yen. (*As of 5/2/2024)

6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

Sold prices on Yahoo! Auction were around 15,000 yen (*Statistics for the past 180 days from 5/2/2024).

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

No listings were confirmed on mail-order sites. (*as of 5/2/2024)

マルスウイスキー(本坊酒造)MARS The Y.A.#02[屋久島エイジング]ブレンデッドウイスキー 700ml 化粧箱付き アルコール度数49%

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, one glass is offered at 45 ml: 3,300 yen, 30 ml: 2,200 yen, and 15 ml: 1,100 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 handle domestic gin and beer. Original cocktails and fresh fruit cocktails are also popular. There is also a wide variety of food available for the first time.

7. Summary

Please take a look at other articles about “Mars Whiskey”.

[Review]Single Malt Komagatake 2...
The 2023 Edition is a single malt whiskey bottled in a limited edition 2023 bottle with a balanced vatting of bourbon barrel, sherry cask, and port cask aged base spirit.
[Review] Single Malt Tsunuki 202...
After the release of the 7th anniversary commemorative bottle last November, the first bottle of the new year, "Single Malt Tsunuki 2024 Edition" was ...
[Review] Mars Maltage Cosmo Wine...
Mars Maltage Cosmo, which expresses complexity and depth by vatting multiple malt wines, is additionally aged in empty barrels used for red wine.

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.

Ryuhei Oishiをフォローする
Japanese Whisky Dictionary