Hey, I’m not the only one that loves Japan and Japanese whisky. Lately, even Scotland is getting in on the hype, with a range of mizunara-finished Scotches hitting the market at a steady clip. Up next is Glenmorangie’s turn, with it’s latest “Tale of” offering, A Tale of Tokyo.
For this expression, Dr. Bill Lumsden experiments with mizunara casks for the first time, using a trio of bourbon, sherry, and mizunara oak casks in some unspecified combination. The mizunara impact probably isn’t all that much, with Dr. Bill noting he “partly matured a proportion of Glenmorangie spirit” in the wood before introducing it into the blend to “encapsulate the juxtapositions of Tokyo.” As is typical for these “Tale of” releases, there’s no age statement included. Don’t miss the box and label, by the way, designed by Japanese artist Yamaguchi Akira, “known for his maximalist bird’s-eye view designs,” here creating a boozy version of Where’s Waldo?, with Dr. Bill hidden multiple times in the graphic.
Turns out Dr. Bill yet again knew exactly what he was doing. This is classic Glenmorangie, filtered through a different lens to just the right degree to create something that is both familiar and also new and exciting. The nose sets up the “tale” pretty cleanly: brightly sweet with vanilla and caramel dominant, but soon revealing layers of orange peel, tea leaf, some white pepper, and an umami richness that evokes soy-sauced mushrooms. Excellent balance, with a jasmine note coming forward after some time in glass.
Chewy and fruity on the palate, here a mix of sweet clementines and almond nougat spar playfully on what quickly emerges as a light and lively experience. While the attack is gentle and accommodating, the whisky soon reveals more depth, bubbling up some flavors that are a little hard to pin down. Oaky, nutty, and increasingly savory, the whisky builds to a finish that offers notes of polished wood and more pepper, though the dessert-like sweetness is never far away.
I’m not sure this evokes Tokyo exactly — to me, Tokyo will always taste like ramen and robots — but I’m not hung up on it. It’s one of the best whiskies of the year — and, I hope, one you’ll be able to find at a reasonable price.
A / $110 / glenmorangie.com