[Review] Single Malt Saburomaru III THE EMPRESS – Characteristics, taste, list price, where can I buy it?

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Saburomaru Distillery

“Single Malt Saburomaru III THE EMPRESS,” the fourth in the Single Malt Saburomaru series, will be released by Saburomaru Distillery on November 24, 2023. Characteristics, taste, and product information.

New products “Saburomaru III THE EMPRESS” and “Saburomaru III THE EMPRESS Cask Strength” have been released by Saburomaru Distillery.

This is the fourth in the series named after tarot cards. This time, it is released under the Major Arcana No. 3 THE EMPRESS of the Tarot.

This is the first single malt whisky made from Islay peat at the Sabromaru Distillery.

Tarot No. Product Name Release Date
0: THE FOOL Saburomaru 0 THE FOOL November 12, 2020
1: THE MAGICIAN Saburomaru I THE MAGICIAN November 29, 2021
2: THE HIGH PRIESTESS Saburomaru II THE HIGH PRIESTESS November 24, 2022
3: The Empress Saburomaru III THE EMPRESS November 24, 2022



1. Manufacturer

Wakatsuru Sake Brewery Co.

Established 1862
Head office location 208 Saburomaru, Tonami, Toyama 939-1308
Owned distillery

Saburomaru Distillery

2. Distillery

Saburomaru Distillery

Address 208, Saburomaru, Tonami city, Toyama 939-1308
Start of operation 1953 (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. In order 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 fermentation tank was introduced.

The major difference from other distilleries is the use of theworld’s first cast pod still “ZEMON”.

There are three major features.
(1) Casting method enables molding with a mold and quick delivery. Also, sufficient wall thickness can be added at a low cost, and a long life of the body can be expected.
(2) Free molding by the casting method enables a variety of sake qualities to be achieved. 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 approximately 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

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

Saburomaru Distillery | Japane...
Japanese Whisky Dictionary

3. Product name and photo

Single Malt Saburomaru III THE EMPRESS
Single Malt Saburomaru Third THE EMPRESS

4. Characteristics of Saburomaru III THE EMPRESS

In 2020, Saburomaru Distillery began brewing with peat-smoked malt from Islay for the first time. Islay peat dug near the sea has a salty, gentle yet long aftertaste, and has a variety of expressions different from conventional inland peat. Furthermore, the wooden barrels introduced in this year enabled a variety of fermentations to be carried out using unique lactic acid bacteria. 

The peat earth that has been accumulated over many years, the wooden vats that are hundreds of years old, and the water from Saburomaru that has been refined for decades come together in harmony, giving the whisky a rich color.

Takahiko Inagaki, Saburomaru Distillery

Reference: Saburomaru Distillery official website

The motif is tarot cards (consisting of 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana), and the third of the 22 major arcana cards, “THE EMPRESS”, ​​is used. It represents the trinity of the fertile earth made of Ira peat, the wooden vats that have been aged for many years, and the water that has been carefully polished.

Keywords: Abundance, love, richness, harmony

Once again, we asked the paper-cutting artist Yukie Kano (born in Himi City, Toyama Prefecture) to create a paper-cut for this “THE EMPRESS” card and use it as the label.

4-1. Tasting Notes

Aroma Strong peat aroma with a hint of the sea, vanilla caramel, grilled lemon, and dry ginger.
Taste Salted lemon, burnt caramel, pencil, white pepper
Aftertaste Sweetness fades first, acidity and saltiness remain on the tongue, smokiness lingers for a long time.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content 48%
Alcohol category Single malt Japanese whisky
Cask type Bourbon casks, etc.
Volume 700ml
Number of bottles sold Limited to 12,000 bottles
Suggested retail price 14,850 yen (tax included)
Release date November 24, 2023

5. Awards

No awards have been received at this time.

6. Price of Saburomaru III THE EMPRESS

6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Product name Single Malt Saburomaru III THE EMPRESS
Capacity 700ml
Suggested Retail Price 14,850 yen (including tax)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale prices on Mercari are around 21,000 yen to 25,000 yen. (*As of November 28, 2023)

6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

The auction bid on Yahoo! Auctions has an immediate lowest bid of 20,580 yen and a highest bid of 25,000 yen. (*No trading records as of November 28, 2023)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

No sales are currently confirmed for mail order sites. (*As of November 28, 2023)


6-5. Prices offered at BAR Shinkai

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

As usual, the cask-strength and regular versions were released simultaneously.

The Islay peated malt was the first attempt at Saburomaru Distillery, and the difference between the two is clearly noticeable with the inland peat from Toyama Prefecture.

Although it is younger in age than Islay, the texture of the flavor is distinct and the sweetness seems to disappear quickly, but the salty, bitter, and sour flavors remain in good balance.

If you are an Islay lover, please give it a try.

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

[Review] Single Malt Saburomaru ...
This is a perfect match between the "overwhelming smoky flavor" of Saburomaru and ZEMON's round, smooth textur...
[Review] Single Malt Saburomaru ...
Distilled in a cast pot still "ZEMON". It is round and smooth on the tongue, with a sweet and sour taste, but ...

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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