[Review] Single Malt Saburomaru II THE HIGH PRIESTESS

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Saburomaru Distillery

This is the first single malt distilled by ZEMON. The quality has been refined to a young, heavily peated, yet graceful bottle. This watered-down version is adjusted to 48% alcohol by volume.

This will be the third edition following “Single Malt Saburomaru 0 THE FOOL” to be released in 2020 and “Single Malt Saburomaru I THE MAGICIAN” in 2021.

The label design was created by Yukie Kano, a cutout artist (born in Himi City). The motif is based on tarot cards (consisting of 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana), with “The High Priestess” (No. 2 of the 22 Major Arcana) as the “Copper and Tin. The label is based on the meaning of “a solid vessel created by the combination of copper and tin, and the first and second distillation”.


1. Manufacturer

Wakatsuru Sake Brewery Co.

Head office address208 Saburomaru, Tonami, Toyama 939-1308
Owned distillerySaburomaru distillery

2. Distillery

Saburomaru distillery

Address208, Saburomaru, Tonami, Toyama 939-1308
Start of operation1953 (renovated in 2016)

The only distillery in Hokuriku, established in 1952.
Amidst the postwar rice shortage, the distillery obtained a license to produce whisky in 1952. Since then, they have been brewing sake in winter and distilling whisky during the rest of the year. They make 200 bottles of whisky a year. Plans are underway to make 300 bottles in the future.
Since the beginning, they have been focusing on smoky whisky, using Islay peated malt and recently peated malt from Toyama Prefecture. To preserve the natural flavor, no cooling filtration or coloring is used.

In 2018, we installed a state-of-the-art mash tun from Miyake Seisakusho.
In 2019, we collaborated with a local company, Oigo Seisakusho, to develop a cast pod still, “ZEMON”.
In 2020, one wooden vat fermenter was installed.

The main difference from other distilleries is the use of “ZEMON”, the world’s first cast pod still.

There are three major features.
(1) The casting method enables molding with a mold for quick delivery. Also, it is possible to add sufficient wall thickness at a low cost, which increases the service life of the bottle.
(2) Free molding by the casting method allows for various types of sake quality. Also, by unitizing the parts, it is possible to replace only worn parts or expand the functions.
(3) Made of a copper-tin alloy containing about 90% copper and 8% tin. Tin is a high-grade metal that is traded at about three times the price of copper.

Tin has been used since ancient times to mellow the taste of sake and has been used in sake vessels and shochu coolers. ZEMON contributes to the production of high quality spirits through the dual effects of copper and tin.
Reference: Wakatsuru Shuzo official website

See also ↓ for information on the Sabromaru distillery. [clink url=”https://en.jpwhisky.net/japanesedistillery-2-3542/#4-7_Saburomaru_Distillery_Wakatsuru_Shuzo”]

3. Product name and photo

Single Malt Saburomaru 2 THE HIGH PRIESTESS
Single Malt Saburomaru Second The High Priestess

4. Characteristics

First single malt distilled by “ZEMON”

This is the first time for the Single Malt Saburomaru series to commercialize a single malt distilled using the world’s first cast iron pot still “ZEMON”. This distillation vessel, manufactured using Takaoka copper casting technology, is highly durable, and the dual effects of copper and tin produce a mellow and refined sake quality. The product has received numerous awards for its innovation, including the “2021 Toyama Prefecture Monozukuri Grand Award,” the “Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Award, 36th Industrial Technology Award” for Industrial Materials, and the “9th Western Sake Technology Research Association Award.” In September of this year, the patent was also approved in the UK, the home of whisky.

*Limited sale of 6000 bottles

Reference: Single Malt Whisky “Saburomaru II (Second) THE HIGH PRIESTESS” goes on sale | New Releases | Wakatsuru Shuzo Brewery Co.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaSmoky, rosemary, banana
TasteSweet and sour pineapple and kiwi, banana yogurt, smoked
AftertasteSmoky, mouth-watering and smoky.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content48%
Alcohol categorySingle Malt Japanese Whisky
Cask type
Number of bottles soldLimited to 6000 bottles
Suggested retail price13,750 yen (tax included)
Release dateNovember 24, 2022

5. Awards received

No awards received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Suggested Retail Price

Product nameSingle Malt Saburomaru 2 THE HIGH PRIESTESS
Suggested retail price13,750 yen (tax included)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale prices on Mercari range from around 18,500 yen to 22,500 yen. (*As of 12/27/2022)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auction

Sold prices on Yahoo! Auctions: Lowest 18,000 yen Highest 19,500 yen Average 18,750 yen

(*Statistics for the past 180 days from 12/27/2022)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

It is also available on mail order sites for around 25,000 yen. (*As of 12/27/2022)

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, we offer small quantities such as 1 glass, 45ml: 4,290 yen, 30ml: 2,860 yen, 15ml: 1,430 yen, etc.

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 hand...

7. Summary

Distilled in “ZEMON”, the world’s first cast iron pot still, created in 2019. The sake has a rounded, smooth texture and sweetness has been added.
The “overwhelming smoky flavor” that has been a characteristic of Saburomaru Distillery up until now is a little less pronounced this time around, but you can still pick up the smokiness at the beginning of the aroma.
The taste is slightly sweet and sour, but by the end the smokiness is pleasantly spread over the entire palate.

We are upgrading every year with the introduction of a new mash tun in 2018, a new pot still “ZEMON” in 2019, and a wooden vat fermenter in 2020.
I am very much looking forward to the single malt that will be released next year, which will be made from wood-batten fermented sake.

In addition, Mr. Inagaki, the blender and manager of Saburomaru distillery, started a bottlers business called “T&T TOYAMA” with Mr. Shimono of Single Malt Mail Order Malt Yama. This is the world’s first Japanese whisky bottler business and is attracting a lot of attention. We will keep an eye on their future activities.

Please take a look at other articles about “Saburomaru Distillery”.

[Review] Single Malt Saburomaru ...
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[Review] Single Malt Saburomaru ...
It is pete that insists firmly from the fragrance to the taste. While feeling the umami on the way, I continue to feel pete from the moment I included it in my ...

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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Japanese Whisky Dictionary