Tag Archives: White Oak

White Oak Akashi Coming to the US?

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It is definitely an exciting time to be a Japanese Whisky enthusiast here in the US. Up until the past 1-2 years it has been a painfully slow trickle of Japanese whiskies arriving on our shores. Suntory established the beachhead for this recent single malt explosion with their Yamazaki 12 and 18. They slowly released additional expressions and now we have a decent amount of their standard lineup available here. We are now also able to purchase a solid number of Nikka’s whiskies: expressions from both of their distilleries Yoichi and Miyagikyou as well as some of their Pure Malts. Chichibu is also knocking. One label has already been approved by the TTB and Akuto San has started holding tasting seminars to introduce his whiskies to US customers.

Although not at the pace that we have seen, I did expect that these brands would eventually make it to the US. However, this latest Japanese whisky distillery looking at entering the US market took me by surprise. White Oak, sometimes referred to as Eigashima, located in Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture, is primarily a sake and shochu producer. While they have been releasing more single malt and blended whisky expressions lately, I did not expect this distillery to try to tackle the US market. It appears that White Oak is poised to launch two expression here in the near future. A single malt that has been aged 3 years and that comes in at 46%ABV and a blended whisky (no age statement) that comes in at 40% ABV. There is currently no indication as to what the price point might be for these whiskies, but they should be fairly affordable – lower than the other Japanese whiskies already available here – if their pricing remains similar to what it is in the Japan domestic market. Perhaps what I am most curious about, other than flavor profile, is the shape of the bottle they decide to use. In Japan, White Oak is easily recognizable by the 500ml bottle that they use. As we all know, White Oak will not be able to continue to use this size bottle in the US.

It is always great to have more Japanese whisky options here but to be honest I have always been pretty lukewarm to White Oak expressions. See our reviews of two White Oak expressions here. Here’s to hoping these two new releases will be solid expressions that we can enjoy. Maybe even at an affordable price, but given the whisky market these days that might be asking for too much.

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A More Mature White Oak: 12 Year

 Last week I took a taste of White Oak (Eigashima) Akashi 5 year old.  It showed some good promise so I was looking forward to giving its elder sibling a try.

White Oak 12 Year ~$60/500ml
50% ABV

Color: Medium copper, dirty yellow

Nose: Whoa…very weird and funky, rubber, a latex glove, bicycle tires, medicinal, smoke, vegetation, sharp, malt is hiding way in the back, slightest hint of mint candy

Palate: From weird on the nose to yuck on the palate, medicinal – novocaine, burnt rubber is overpowering, then moves towards gnawing on a brand new bicycle tire, smoke, bitter, pepper spice, some dark spices and alcohol burn down the gullet

Finish:  Too long.  Even if it was short it would be too long.  Burnt rubber.

Comments:  Anyone want a bottle of White Oak 12? – Chris

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Off of the Japanese Whisky Beaten Path: White Oak (Eigashima) Akashi 5 Year

Japanese whisky has been making some serious headway in the single malt whisky world so most are familiar with Suntory’s Yamazaki and Hakushu expressions as well as Nikka’s Yoichi.  But there are some other distilleries in Japan that have yet to extend past the island nation’s borders.  One such distillery is White Oak, some times referred to as Eigashima (江井ヶ島) which is located in Akashi (あかし), Hyogo Prefecture(兵庫県,).  White Oak is primarily a sake and shochu producer, however they produce a limited amount of whisky.  Most of the whisky targets the cheap mass market of blends – as the fact that there is the 1L plastic bottle option for purchase indicates.  However, they do produce some single malt whisky under the Akashi (あかし)name.  I am going to start with the 5 year old and then give my impressions of the 12 year old in a later post.  To get even more detailed information and history on the White Oak distillery please check out Nonjatta’s post.

Akashi 5 Year Old ~$27 for 500ml
45%ABV

Color:  A vibrant yellow, dangerously close to highlighter yellow

Nose:  Not knowing anything about this spirit I was surprised to find a decent amount of peat on the nose, some rubber, new car tires, vegetation, buttery, artificial sweetness: sweet tarts, cereal, it reminds me of the Ledaig 10

Palate:  Sweet like the nose indicated, somewhat wattery in the mouth feel, subtle peat, simple maltiness, sweet grain, young and raw spirit but pretty crisp

Finish:  Short, sweet grain and some lingering peat

Comments:  Very promising, still immature as expected for a 5 year old.  The wateriness was a little disappointing though.  Hoping that some more flavor will show in the older expressions.  – Chris 

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