[Review] MARSMALT Le Papillon Double Cask L.amurensis

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 inhabit Japan as a motif.
This is the fourteenth in the Papillon series, and uses malt whisky distilled at the Mars Shinshu Distillery in 2015. It is a double cask single malt whisky vatted from a cask with cherry wood for the mirror plate and two casks aged in bourbon barrels.
All of the series are bottled in single or double cask, so the limited number of bottles each time is very small, making it one of the rarest and most scarce Japanese whiskies.


1. Manufacturer

Hombo Shuzo Co.

Establishment 1872
Head office 891-0122; 3-27 Nanei, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
Owned distilleries Mars Shinshu Distillery, Mars Tsunuki Distillery

2. Distillery

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 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.

Reference: Hombo Shuzo official website


■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

Mars Malt Le Papillon Double Cask Himeshirocho
Marsmalt Le Papillon Double Cask Leptideaamurensis

4. Characteristics

Double cask with two barrels, one with cherry wood for the mirror plate and the other with bourbon barrels

Distilled at Mars Shinshu Distillery in December 2015. Two barrels, one with cherry wood for the mirror plate and the other aged in bourbon barrels, were vatted and bottled in February 2022. This single cask whisky was bottled at natural cask strength and non-chill filtered.

4-1. Tasting Notes

Aroma Body soap, milk, apricot, and slight rose.
Taste Smooth texture, creamy, vanilla
Aftertaste Sandalwood, slightly spicy, pleasant aftertaste

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol Content 60%
By Alcohol Single Malt Japanese Whisky
Barrel type Bourbon barrel, cherry barrel (mirror plate)
Content volume 700ml
Number of bottles sold 829 bottles
Suggested retail price 12,100 yen (tax included)
Release date March 28, 2023

5. Awards

No awards received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Product name MARSMALT Le Papillon Double Cask L.amurensis
Capacity 700ml
Suggested Retail Price 12,100 yen (including tax)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale prices on Mercari range from around 65,000 yen to 100,000 yen. (*As of 3/31/2023)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions

At this time, there are no listings on Yahoo! Auctions. (*As of 3/31/2023)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

At this time, there are no items available on mail-order sites. (*As of 3/31/2023)

6-5. Prices offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, we offer small quantities such as 1 glass, 45ml: 3,630 yen, 30ml: 2,420 yen, 15ml: 1,210 yen, etc.

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 Papillon series are single or double cask bottlings, and the number of bottles sold each time is very small.

The resale price of the Papillon series has risen considerably, and many of the past products are currently being sold for more than 100,000 yen (Mercari, Yahoo! Auctions).

Elegant aroma, smooth texture without feeling the alcohol content.

The full flavor is reminiscent of milk and apricot bean curd. It is a whisky with a complexity that changes from sweet to spicy and a lingering taste.

■Please check out other articles about Hombo Shuzo and Papillon series.




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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