The popularity of Japanese whisky continues to grow unbounded, and as prices skyrocket we’re seeing numerous new players jump into the game — generally releasing younger spirits at lower prices (but with prominent Kanji script on the label).
The latest of these is Tenjaku, a mystery blend — of both single malt and corn-heavy grain whiskies — that purports to be entirely distilled and aged in Japan. (The distillery is based in Fuefuki, near Mt. Fuji, west of Tokyo.) Some “Japanese” blends use imported stock in the mix. There’s no age statement, but it is reportedly between 3 and 5 years old, spending the full time in bourbon barrels.
Let’s see how it tastes.
As cheap Japanese blends go, Tenjaku (the Japanese characters for the skylark) isn’t bad. Yes, the nose is aggressive with cereal and quite a vegetal note, and the aroma is decidedly not the best part of the dram. Push past the funky aromatics though and you’ll find much more to delight the tongue: Butterscotch, breakfast cereal, and a sweet honeycomb quality. The finish is grain-heavy, chewy and straightforward, with a gentle caramel and vanilla bent.
While Tenjaku doesn’t exactly scream “Japan,” it does acquit itself well in comparison to other malt-heavy blends of the world. That said, you pay quite a premium for that kanji scripting. There are plenty of Scottish blends that get you a lot further down the road for less.
B- / $45 / tenjakuwhisky.com