[Review] Single Malt Nagahama THE FIRST BATCH

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Nagahama Distillery

Five years have passed since the Nagahama Distillery started operation, and in the spirit of the distillery’s concept of “one brew, one barrel,” only the finest malt whisky from the original bottles lying in the cellar was carefully selected and blended to become the Nagahama Distillery’s first single malt whisky.

The casks used are bourbon, sherry, Islay Quarter, and Quercus casks. Nagahama Distillery has blended these casks using the technology and experience cultivated with “AMAHAGAN” to create this bottle of their best.


1. Manufacturer

Nagahama Roman Beer Co.

Establishment 1995 (Heisei 7)
Head office 14-1 Asahi-cho, Nagahama-shi, Shiga 526-0056
Owned distillery Nagahama Distillery

2. Distillery

Nagahama Distillery

Address 14-1 Asahi-cho, Nagahama-shi, Shiga 526-0056
Start of operation November 1, 2016 (Heisei 28)

Nagahama Distillery, one of the smallest distilleries in Japan, is located in the northern part of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture and has both a craft beer brewery and a restaurant. Few distilleries, including major whisky distilleries, have restaurants attached to them, and when it comes to craft whisky distilleries, they are very rare.

The unique shape of the pot stills installed in the distillery reminds us of the very origin of whisky making.
Nagahama Distillery was originally a rice warehouse from the Edo period (1603-1868), and began making beer in 1996. Later, in 2016, facilities for whisky production were installed. The building has a vaulted ceiling, with a saccharification tank and distiller on the first floor, and a crusher and fermentation tank on the second floor.
There are two pot stills for first distillation and one for redistillation, and the heating system is an alambic type pot still shaped like an indirect steam gourd, a pot still often used for distilling brandy. Among Japanese craft distilleries, Nagahama Distillery is the only one currently using this alambic type pot still. One of the characteristics of this distillery is that it has the advantage of producing a clear, soft liquor with little miscellaneous taste.

Trial and error has been repeated between the establishment of the distillery and the present. Major changes include a change in the malt crush ratio and a change in the fermentation time, which was initially 60 hours but has now been increased to 72 hours. Also, the number of distillers was increased from two to three. When the distillery was founded, the first distillation vessel had a capacity of 1,000 liters and the redistillation vessel had a capacity of 500 liters, but the redistillation vessel was also replaced, and all three distillation vessels are now 1,000 liters. The redistillation kettles were also replaced and all three distillation kettles were unified into a single 1,000-liter kettle. We have made many changes in the roughly four years since our founding, including the following.

Reference: Whisky|Nagahama Roman Beer

For more information about Nagahama Distillery, please also see this article.


3. Product name and photo

Single Malt Nagahama THE FIRST BATCH
Single Malt Nagahama The First Batch

4. Characteristics

The first single malt created by vatting its own distillate

The Nagahama Distillery was established in 2016 as a project to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Nagahama Roman Beer, which was founded in 1996. Until now, “Single Malt Nagahama” has been released as a single cask as it came out of the cask, but now, after 5 years of operation, we are very happy to be able to offer you our first single malt, which was created by vatting our own distillation base liquors. We are very pleased to be able to offer you our first single malt, which was created by vatting our own distillates.

In the spirit of “one brew, one barrel,” we have carefully selected only the finest malt from among the bottles in our aging cellar, using bourbon, sherry, Islay Quarter, and Quercus barrel-aged bottles distilled between 2017 and 2019, and carefully blended using the technology and experience we have cultivated in the AMAHAGAN. The blending was carefully done using the techniques and experience cultivated at “AMAHAGAN.”

We hope you will enjoy not only the malty and mellow flavor typical of Nagahama Distillery, but also the exquisite harmony created by the characteristics of the different casks.


Quote: The first single malt vatted from the distillery’s own distillate has finally been released. Single Malt Nagahama THE FIRST BATCH” will be on sale from October 11, 2022 (Tuesday).

4-1. Tasting Notes

Aroma Ripe apples, cookies, elegant and gentle sandalwood aroma
Taste Mild mouthfeel, vanilla ice cream, crème brûlée
Aftertaste Bitter chocolate, woody, vanilla, and a hint of peat.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol Content 50% alcohol by volume
By Alcohol Single Malt Japanese Whisky
Cask type Bourbon casks, Sherry casks, Islay Quarter casks, Quercus casks
Content volume 500ml
Number of bottles sold Limited to 12,000 bottles
Suggested retail price 11,000 yen (tax included)
Release date October 11, 2021

5. Awards

No awards received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Product name Single Malt Nagahama THE FIRST BATCH
Capacity 500ml
Suggested Retail Price Tax included: 11,000 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale prices on Mercari are around 13,500 yen to 15,700 yen. (*as of 10/21/2022)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auction

Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions is Lowest 12,500 yen, highest 16,000 yen, average 14,285 yen. (*Statistics for the past 180 days from 10/21/2022)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

The price is also available on the mail order website at around 19,500 yen The price of the item is also available on mail-order sites. (*As of 2022/10/21)

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, we offer the following prices for one glass, 45ml: 4,950 yen, 30ml: 3,300 yen, 15ml: 1,650 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 aroma is elegant and the taste is refined. The aftertaste is bitter and woody. The taste gradually changes after the sip, and is complex and deep. The finish has a woody oak aroma in the aftertaste and a slight peat aroma, probably due to the influence of the Iraku quarter barrels. It has a much deeper flavor than the whiskies that have been released from Nagahama Distillery up to now.

■Please check out our other articles about Nagahama Distillery.




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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