Finishing a whisky in Japanese mizunara oak is a trend that has been gaining traction over the past few years, with expressions from all categories getting that type of secondary maturation. But that’s not the only type of Japanese cask available in which to finish your whisky, as proven by this new Glenfiddich single malt scotch that was finished in Awamori barrels—the first time this has been done, according to the brand.
If you’re unfamiliar with Awamori, you’re probably not alone. It is a spirit from Okinawa that is made from Indica rice sprinkled with koji mold, fermented using yeast, distilled once, and stored in clay pots. It’s believed to be the oldest distilled spirit from Japan, even predating shochu. Awamori is not, generally speaking, aged in oak casks, which presumably makes the American oak puncheons used to finish this Glenfiddich expression even more rare.
The whisky, Grand Yozakura, was initially aged in American and European oak for 29 years before getting a six-month secondary maturation in Awamori casks. This is the fourth in the Glenfiddich Grand Series, which previously featured whiskies aged for more than 20 years including Grand Cru, Grand Reserva, and Grande Couronne. “We are always looking to experiment with new finishes, so when the chance arose to acquire rare Awamori casks, we saw an opportunity to push the boundaries and experiment with this highly unusual spirit,” said malt master Brian Kinsman in a statement. “This is the first time that single malt scotch whisky has been finished in these rare casks. We always learn something new when we lead with innovation, so taking a risk is worth it, and in the case of Awamori, we trialed a very small number of casks at a younger age.”
Official tasting notes mention ripe fruit and caramelized almond on the nose, followed by creamy vanilla toffee, citrus, and green apple on the palate, with an oaky finish. The release of Grand Yozakura is meant to celebrate Hanami, or the Japanese cherry blossom festival. It comes in a decanter that has a stopper with a Hanko stamp engraving, a poem about sakura written on a piece of fabric, and the whole package is housed in a Grand Range box designed by Japanese artist June. The price of this limited-edition whisky is $2,000. If you can’t find a bottle at your local specialty booze retailer in the coming months, you can enter a ballot at the Glenfiddich website—but it closes on April 20, so head over there now to secure your bottle.