[Review] Single Malt Tsunuki THE FIRST

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Tsunuki Distillery

In November 2016, Mars Tsunuki Distillery, the southernmost whisky distillery on the mainland, was born.
The distillery is located on the east side of Mt. Kurata, and the whisky is made from the high quality spring water of the mountain range, and is matured in an environment with a temperature difference between warm and cold, where the temperature drops to below zero in winter.

Single Malt Tsunuki THE FIRST” is the first single malt whisky to bear the name “Tsunuki” . It is characterized by its rich and heavy quality even in its short maturation period, taking advantage of the climate of Tsunuki, Kagoshima.


1. Manufacturer

Hombo Shuzo Co.

Established 1872
Head office location 3-27, Minamisakae, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, 891-0122, Japan
Owned distilleriesMars Shinshu distillery, Mars Tsunuki distillery

2. Distillery

Mars Tsunuki Distillery

Location 6594 Tsunuki, Kaseda, Minamisatsuma City, Kagoshima Prefecture, 899-3611, Japan
Start of operation 2016

Tsunuki , Kaseda, Minami-Satsuma City. It is located in the southwest of the Satsuma Peninsula in a mountainous area full of greenery. Mars Tsunuki Distillery, the southernmost whisky distillery on the mainland It’s a place where you can find the best of both worlds.

Tsunuki, located in the southwestern part of the Satsuma Peninsula, is in a long basin along the Kayeda River, a tributary of the Manose River. Surrounded by the mountains of Mt. Kurata (475m) to the east and Mt. Nagaya (513m) to the west, the topography of the area is basin-like, so the summers are hot and the winters are cold, which is extremely harsh in southern Satsuma.
The area has a natural environment that is a “blessing” with good water resources (Mt. Kurata spring water), and the cultivation of oranges, known as “Tsunuki oranges” is flourishing by making effective use of the mountain slopes.
Tsunuki, blessed with a mild climate and good water resources, is the birthplace of the Hombo Sake Brewery. It has been more than a hundred years since the brewery began making shochu using Satsuma sweet potatoes, one of Satsuma’s most famous specialties.
Reference: Mars Tsunuki Distillery official website

Image credit: Mars Tsunuki Distillery Official Facebook

For more information on Mars Shinshu Distillery, please also visit here↓.


3. Product name and photo

Single Malt Tsunuki THE FIRST

4. Characteristics

A powerful brew that takes advantage of the difference in temperature between the two basins.

“Single Malt Tsunuki THE FIRST” is the first single malt whisky to bear the name of “Tsunuki” , the place where Mars Tsunuki Distillery was founded. Although the climate is mild, the basin topography allows for a sharp difference in temperature, resulting in vigorous maturation. The heavy presence of the original malt is unique to the warm climate and temperature differences of Tsunuki.

Also, by adding a small amount of second-fill bourbon barrels as key malt, the barley flavor, richness of the mouthfeel, and lingering aftertaste derived from the original sake are added. This expresses the energy and depth of the deep original liquor that the Tsunuki distillery aims to produce.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaRich and elegant sweet aroma like vanilla and maple syrup.
TasteSweet like a sweet potato. Fruity, spicy like chili pepper, and heavy.
AftertasteA rich and delicate aftertaste that lasts for a long time.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content59%
alcohol categorySingle malt whisky
Barrel typeMainly bourbon barrels
Number of bottles soldLimited edition of 9,984 bottles
Suggested retail price11,000 yen (tax included)
Release dateApril 27, 2020 (Monday)


No awards have been received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product nameSingle Malt Tsunuki THE FIRST
Suggested retail price11,000 yen (tax included)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is Around 13,000 yen to 16,000 yen The resale price on Mercari has become (*As of  April 2, 2021)
The following image is from Mercari.

6-3. Yahoo auction bidding price

The winning bid price on Yahoo Auction is Lowest price: 10,000 yen, highest price: 16,800 yen, average price: 14,249 yen (*Statistics for the past 120 days from April 2, 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

It is also sold on mail order sites at Around 23,000 yen (*Statistics for the past 120 days as of 4/2/2021) (*As of April 2, 2021)
The number of items on Rakuten Market is very small at the moment.

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR SHINKAI” which is operated by this site, we offer 1 glass, 45ml: 3,300 yen, 30ml: 2,200 yen, 15ml: 1,100 yen We also offer small quantities such as


7. Summary

Tsunuki The First is characterized by its sweet and juicy drinkability, reminiscent of tropical fruits and maple syrup.

Mars Tsunuki Distillery will continue to check the maturation status and identify the type of matured barrels that go well together. Tsunuki THE FIRST has a well-balanced finish that is hard to believe after three years of aging, so I look forward to seeing what kind of whisky will be released from Mars Tsunuki Distillery in the future.

We recommend drinking it straight, on the rocks or with water. The production has already ended, so if you are interested, please try it at our store!

If you are interested, please visit our store!




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.

新海 博之

Born July 17, 1981 in Kitahiroshima City, Hokkaido, Japan
After graduating from university, joined NTT Data Customer Service Corporation as a new graduate.
2010: Opened "Azabujuban BAR Shinkai" → 2016: Developed specialty "Yakuzen Curry" → 2018: Opened "Toranomon BAR Shinkai" and in 2019 "Shibadaimon BAR Shinkai" → 2020: Started web media "Japanese Whisky Dictionary".
We will daily communicate the appeal of Japanese whiskey as something we, as bartenders, can do.

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Japanese Whisky Dictionary