[Review] Single Malt Komagatake AGED 9 YEARS Small Batch

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Hombo ShuzoShinshu Distillery

This single malt whisky was bottled by carefully selecting and vatting several barrels of malt whisky aged for more than nine years from among the malt whisky matured in the cool environment of Shinshu. As a small batch, the production quantity is small and limited to 188 bottles.


1. Manufacturer

Hombo Shuzo Co.,Ltd.

Establishment 1872
Head office location 3-27 Nanei, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, 891-0122, Japan
Owned distilleriesMars Shinshu Distillery, Mars Tsunuki Distillery

2. Distillery

Mars Shinshu Distillery

Location 4752-31 Miyata-mura, Kamiina-gun, Nagano 399-4301
Start of operation 1985

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)

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


3. Product name and photo

Single Malt Komagatake AGED 9 YEARS Small Batch
Single Malt Komagatake Aged 9 Years Small Batch

4. Characteristics

Miyata Village, Kamiina-gun, Nagano Prefecture, is located at the foot of Komagatake, in the Japanese Alps mountain range. The distillery is located in a quiet forest at an altitude of 798 meters, surrounded by abundant nature and good quality water.
“Single Malt Komagatake AGED 9 YEARS Small Batch” is a rare single malt whisky, which is made by carefully selecting and vatting several barrels of malt whisky matured for more than 9 years in the cool environment of Shinshu.
*This product conforms to the Japan Spirits & Liquors Makers Association “Standards for the Labeling of Japanese Whisky.”
Reference: Mars Single Malt Komagatake AGED 9 YEARS Small Batch

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaVanilla, oak, and peat aromas derived from bourbon casks
TasteHigh cocoa chocolate bitterness and moderate sweetness
AftertasteLong bitter tone on the tongue, peatiness on the nose, and greenness like young bananas

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content50%
alcohol categorySingle Malt Japanese Whisky
Cask typeBourbon barrels, American white oak barrels
Number of bottles soldLimited to 188 bottles
Suggested retail price17,600 yen (tax included)
Release date2023

5. Awards

World Whisky Awards (WWA 2023) Single Malt Small Batch Category – Japan’s Highest Award

Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition (TWSC 2023) Gold Prize, Western liquor Category


<What is the World Whiskies Awards (WWA)?>

The World Whiskies Awards (WWA) is the world’s leading whisky competition held in the UK. Organized by Paragraph Publishing, publishers of the whisky magazine “Whisky Magazine,” only official bottles from the manufacturer and seller are eligible. The title of “World’s Best Whisky” is determined by a rigorous final judging process that includes a blind tasting in which the brand name is concealed from the judges. The final judging will be conducted by blind tasting with the name of the brand hidden.


<What is the Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition (TWSC)?>

The Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition (TWSC) is a whisky and spirits competition in Japan, planned and managed by the Whisky Culture Institute. The purpose of the competition is to promote high quality whiskies and spirits both domestically and internationally by evaluating whiskies and spirits from around the world with the deep knowledge and passion of Japanese whisky and spirits connoisseurs. Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards will be determined for each category based on the results of the judging based on aroma, flavor, finish, balance, and overall judging criteria. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze prizes are awarded based on the results of the scoring based on the criteria of aroma, flavor, finish, balance, and overall performance. The Executive Committee deliberates and decides which product receives the most outstanding score among the Gold prizes and awards the “Highest Gold Award”.

6. Price

6-1. Suggested Retail Price

Product nameSingle Malt Komagatake AGED 9 YEARS Small Batch
Suggested Retail Price17,600 yen including tax

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale prices on Mercari range from around 42,000 yen to 99,300 yen. (*As of May 16, 2023)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions

Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions: Lowest 35,000 yen Highest 40,000 yen Average 36,833 yen (*As of May 16, 2023)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, and Amazon

Each of these retail sites does not appear to have any sales at this time. (*As of May 16, 2023)

6-5. Prices offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, one glass, 45ml: 5,280 yen, 30ml: 3,520 yen, 15ml: 1,760 yen.


7. Summary

Drinking it straight, the strong bitter taste and the peaty smell on the nose interweave to create a powerful whisky.

The lingering bitterness on the tongue is long and persistent, while the aroma on the nose is not only peaty, but also fresh and gorgeous, like young bananas. The long aftertaste gives a very satisfying sip.

Furthermore, by adding water, the acidity, which had a modest presence behind the bitterness, comes out and shows a lighter expression that is different from the heaviness when straight brewed.

You can enjoy the various changes in expression with a small amount of water added, so you can fully enjoy the charm of this whisky by enjoying the changes while slowly adding water on the rocks.

■Please be sure to read other articles about “Hombo Shuzo, Single Malt Komagatake”.




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