[Lottery sale early May 2023] MARS The Y.A. #02 (Hombo Shuzo)

New Release
New Release
Hombo Shuzokomagatake DistilleryTsunuki Distillery

“MARS THE Y.A.#02”, a new product in the MARS THE Y.A. series, has been released on the official website of Hombo Shuzo by lottery.

MARS THE Y.A. series is a blended malt Japanese whisky matured in the Yakushima aging cellar owned by Mars, using the original whisky distilled at the Mars Shinshu Distillery and the Mars Tsunuki Distillery respectively. The blend is mainly bourbon barrels, like the previous MARS THE Y.A. #01, which was released in June 2022.
It is characterized by a bright fruity aroma that evokes a warm climate, a smoky flavor that evokes a mysterious scene when fog covers the forests of Yakushima Island, and an aroma reminiscent of sea breezes.
The release date is early May 2023. Limited to 12,000 bottles, 9,900 yen including tax.
Lottery applications began on April 18 on the official Hombo Shuzo website.

1. About the lottery application

Lottery application has started on the official website of Hombo Shuzo.

Click here for the application page.

Application period: Thursday, April 27, 10:00 a.m. *Multiple applications will not be accepted.
Lottery results: “Winners only” will be notified on May 2 (Tue.) to the e-mail address entered during the application process.

2. MARS The Y.A. #02

Product NameMARS The Y.A. #02
Sake typeBlended malt Japanese whisky
Barrel typeMainly Bourbon Barrel
Number of bottlesLimited to 12,000 bottles
Price9,900 yen (tax included)
Manufactured at

Mars Shinshu Distillery

Mars Tsunuki Distillery

Produced byHombo Shuzo Co.

3. About Yakushima Aging Cellar

Yakushima, a World Natural Heritage island, is located about 60 km southwest of the Kagoshima mainland.
The cellar was completed in June 2016 in this land of rich nature, abundant water, and high temperatures and humidity, where Kyushu’s highest peak, Miyanoura-dake, is said to be the Alps floating above the sea, towering over the island. Currently, the company owns two aging warehouses.

There are no distilling facilities here, only aging rooms, where the sake distilled at the Mars Shinshu Distillery and the sake distilled at the Mars Tsunuki Distillery are stored.

Matured on Yakushima Island, the sweet, spicy flavor and concentrated tropical fruitiness are produced by the more active extraction of oak wood components compared to cooler climates. 

4. About Mars Shinshu Distillery

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)

5. About Mars Tsunuki Distillery

Tsunuki” is located in Kaseda, Minamisatsuma City. “Mars Tsunuki Distillery”, the southernmost whisky distillery on the mainland, is located in a mountainous area 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 Shuzo. It has been more than 100 years since the brewery started making shochu using Satsuma sweet potatoes, one of Satsuma’s representative specialties.
Reference: Mars Tsunuki Distillery official website

6. Yakushima aged products released in the past

Released in late March 2021. Limited to 5,208 units. Priced at 9,680 yen including tax.

[Review] Single Malt Komagatake ...
A complex and balanced single malt whisky intertwined with the sweetness unique to bourbon barrels and the sweetness of ripe fruits, and a firm peat feeling.

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".

Misato Ushiwataをフォローする
Japanese Whisky Dictionary