[Review] Single Malt Japanese Whisky Shizuoka United S. First Edition

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Shizuoka Distillery

Gaiaflow Shizuoka Distillery has released its sixth single malt whisky, “Single Malt Japanese Whisky Shizuoka United S. First Edition”.
This is the successor to the “Single Malt Japan Whisky Shizuoka Contact S” released in November 2011.

The “S” in the product name not only indicates that it is the successor to Contact S, which was released in November 2021, but also stands for “Shizuoka,” “Spirits,” “Single Malt,” and “Sphere”.

The “United” signifies a further evolution, a harmonization and fusion of the two original wines encountered in “Contact”.

This release is limited to 5,000 bottles sold in Japan. The suggested retail price is 9,845 yen (including tax), the same price as the previous Pot Still W.


1. Manufacturer

Gaiaflow Distilling Co.

Established October 8, 2014
Head office location 555 Ochiai, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, 421-2223, Japan
Owned distilleryGaiaflow Shizuoka Distillery

2. Distillery

Gaiaflow Shizuoka Distillery

Location 555 Ochiai, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, 421-2223, Japan
Start of operation 2016

Established Gaiaflow Distilling Co. on October 8, 2014.
Construction of Gaiaflow Shizuoka Distillery completed on August 9, 2016.
In the same year, whisky production started on October 28.
The distillery is located in the Tamagawa district of the Okushizu area of Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on the banks of the Abenakagochi River, a tributary of the Abe River, a first-class river.
Surrounded by beautiful 400-meter-high mountains at an elevation of around 200 meters, the temperature is always 2 to 3 degrees cooler than in the city center, making it a truly desirable location.
The building was designed with the theme of fusion of Japanese beauty and Western culture, and in collaboration with Derek Baston, an American architect living in Shizuoka, the interior and exterior of the whisky distillery are made of many Shizuoka woods, which are beautiful to the eye.

Shizuoka Distillery operates two first distillation machines named “K” and “W.” K is a historic distillation machine from the Karuizawa Distillery, which was manufactured in Japan in the 1950s, and was moved to Shizuoka Distillery in November 2011 from the Karuizawa Distillery, which regrettably closed down. The distiller’s graceful silhouette and the indirect heating of steam produce a light and floral tasting sake.

In the left foreground of the photo below is the W, probably the only “wood-fired direct distiller” in the world, made by Forsyth in Scotland.
This time, Prologue W is made from the original spirit distilled by this distiller. The very characteristic of direct-fired distillation is temperature. While the temperature for general indirect heat distillation is around 150℃, the wood-fired direct distillation at Shizuoka Distillery is 800℃, which can produce a savory and powerful type of malt base spirit.

The fermentation tanks are wooden vats made of locally grown Shizuoka cedar. Shizuoka City is known for its forestry industry, and they chose to use locally grown cedar in the hope of creating a whisky that is uniquely Shizuoka.
The malt mill used to grind malt (barley malt), which is the raw material for whisky, has been moved from the Karuizawa distillery and is used in the same way as the “K” distillation machine.

[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]Incidentally, a certain British company bought a bottle of a fantastic whisky that was made at Mercian Karuizawa distillery and had been sitting in storage without being commercialized, and bottled it in 2013 and sold it as “Karuizawa 1960” for 2 million yen.It then sold for about 14 million yen at a Scottish auction in 2017. It is now clear that Japanese whisky is at the top of the target list for whisky collectors around the world.

Whiskies Mercian was selling at the time included “Karuizawa 8-year old 100% malt whisky” and “Mercian Karuizawa 15-year old sherry cask malt masters.” [/box]

Shizuoka has a warmer climate than Scotland, and the design dares to create a difference in temperature by installing windows in the ceiling of the cellar for lighting. Because of this, the original sake being aged in the cellar is expected to evaporate at least 5% per year at Angel’s Share.

At the distillery, there is a tasting corner where visitors can sample some of the Shizuoka Distillery’s original sake and other products (for a fee). The Shizuoka Distillery also imports and sells whisky, including the Indian whisky “Amrut ” and the Scottish bottlers “Black Adder” and “Asta Morris”.

For more information about Gaiaflow Shizuoka Distillery, please click here↓.


3. Product names and photos

Single Malt Japanese Whisky Shizuoka United S First Edition

Single Malt Japanese Whisky Shizuoka United S First Edition

4. Characteristics

“S Series” to be the future mainstay of the company’s products.

 The “S” in the product name not only indicates that it is the successor to Contact S, but also stands for Shizuoka, Spirits, Single Malt, and Sphere.

 The “United” signifies a further evolution: the harmonization and fusion of the two original wines encountered in Contact.

 Its smooth and balanced flavor can be compared to a jade (sphere).
 The fruity and light distillate from the steam-heated distiller K forms the upper half of the sphere, while the heavy and powerful distillate from the wood-fired distiller W supports the lower half.

 The core ingredients are Japanese barley malt, Scottish non-peat malt, peated malt, and beer malt.

 The barrels used for aging are primarily first fill bourbon barrels, but also wine barrels and other types of barrels.

 From now on, the “S Series” will be Shizuoka Distillery’s main product lineup, skillfully combining the original spirits from these two distillers.



4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaBrilliant, fresh, and ethereal
TasteRed wine, yogurt, medium body
AftertasteRich and elegant, with some peat.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol Content50% alcohol by volume
By SakeSingle Malt Japanese Whisky
Barrel typeBourbon barrels, wine barrels, etc.
Number of bottles soldLimited to 5,000 bottles
Suggested retail price9,845 yen (tax included)
Release dateMid-December 2022

5. Awards

No awards have been received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Product nameSingle Malt Japanese Whisky Shizuoka United S First Edition
Suggested retail price9,845 yen (including tax)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale price on Mercari 14,900 yen to 18,800 yen. (*As of 12/23/2022)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions

Sold at Yahoo! Auctions for a low bid of 18,000 yen, a high of 19,000 yen, and an average of 18,500 yen. (*Statistics for the past 180 days as of 12/23/2022)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

It is also sold on mail order sites for around 30,000 yen, although it is sold as a set with other products. (*As of December 23, 2022)

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: 3,630 yen 30ml: 2,420 yen, 15ml: 1,210 yen.


7. Summary

The blend ratio of the original spirits from distillers K and W is blended as 1:1, which has been our goal since the beginning. The different characteristics of the original sake produced by these two distillers are exquisitely harmonized.
The main ingredients are Japanese barley malt, Scottish non-peated and peated malt, and beer malt.
The use of wine barrel-aged sake gives it a different taste from Contact S, which is also a member of the “S Series”. The change in the alcohol content to 50% (55.5% for the previous single malt) from this year’s product gives the impression of more floral and mellow flavors that are easier to pick up.


Please check out our other articles on “Shizuoka 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".

Misato Ushiwataをフォローする
Japanese Whisky Dictionary