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The gemstone underneath Mt. Fuji  

Fuji-Gotemba Single Grain

富士山下的寶藏-御殿場單一穀物

Fuji-Gotemba Distillery, which has Japan's largest distillation plant, was established in 1973 and is belonged to Kirin Group. It is a few of distilleries in Japan which has its own bottling line and cooperage. The main production is the “Fuji Sanroku" series and other blended ranges. The quality is good but not outstanding, a good value of money.

 

Kirin Group bought Karuizawa in 2007. There was rumors that they would , but Kirin decided to demolish all the distillation still, which means that the hope failed. Some of the remaining reserve by Karuizawa has become the constitutes of Fuji-Gotemba blended whisky. The distillery also produces single malt, mostly served for a base for other blend, with only a small proportion will be bottled on its own. These limited editions are great, such as Fuji-Gotemba 17 year single malt which is available in Hong Kong.

 

The distillery is located in the town of Shizuoka, Gotemba shi, just at the foothills of Mount Fuji. The location of the distillery is very crucial to the resultant style of the whisky. Surrounded by regular fog, the area is often humid. An altitude of more than 600 meters gives it an average temperature of 11℃, clean air and snow water from Mount Fuji. The whisky is boasted of its use in underflow snow water as ingredients, which lends an extremely soft and clean palate. Of course, it is the best kind of water for making whisky.

Since established in 2007, the World Whiskies Award (WWA) has been the most attentive competition in the global whisky industry. In that year, Takersuru 21 year and Hibiki 30 year won ‘the world's best blended malt whisky’ and ‘the world's best blended whisky’ respectively. Last year, Fuji-Gotemba took ‘the world's best grain whisky’ title in WWA with its 25 year single grain whisky as well. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the distillery and Mount Fuji being awarded the World Cultural Heritage, Fuji-Gotemba initiated the production of 27-year single cask single grain whisky. The amount is limited to one hundred bottles, which precisely defined the classic of single grain Japanese whisky.

 

Recently I got the opportunity to taste Fuji-Gotemba 25 year single grain. The whisky was matured in small barrels so the time needed was shorterned. My affection in single grain was inspired by Clan Denny. I missed the moment when I drink Invergordon 26 y.o. and the closed Caledonian 45 y.o. in the Macallan Bar, Macau. However, the Fuji-Gotemba 25 y.o. single grain whisky is even better than Clan Denny 26 y.o. and a little bit lighter than the 45 y.o. Caledonian. It displays a clean fnish of syrup and tropical fruits in a subtle tone. A real excellent single grain whisky.

 

By the way, the Hibiki 21 y.o. secured the title of ‘the world's best blend whisky’ in WWA 2016. But as vintage Japanese whisky becomes a scared resource, Japanese single grain whisky was a much more affordable alternative to look for. Sure this 25 y.o. Fuji-Gotemba is limited edition and certainly command a high price.  

 

 

富士御殿場蒸餾所成立於 1973 年,屬於Kirin麒麟集團旗下,是日本最大型蒸餾所,而且是小數蒸餾所同時擁有灌瓶生產線和自製酒桶場地。酒廠主要生產是「富士山麓」系列及其他混調威士忌,論品質來說普普通通,不屬於精品,可是價錢大眾化,以量產為基礎。

 

麒麟集團在2007年買下了輕井澤,傳聞說他們會重新開始蒸餾,可惜麒麟決定拆毀輕井澤所有的蒸餾器,意味著輕井澤不會重新投產,剩下的部份原酒亦成為富士御殿場的混調威士忌構成酒之一。酒廠也生產單一麥芽,大部份作為混調威士忌基本酒,只有小部份灌裝年份酒,這些限量版屬於精品,例如香港市面上可找到的17年單一麥芽。

 

酒廠位於靜岡縣御殿場市,正好在富士山山腳,周圍充滿霧氣,濕度充足。威士忌酒廠的選址很重要,直接影響風格,這裡氣溫平均攝氏十多度,位於海拔六百多米高,潔淨的空氣加上來自富士山的雪水,這裡威士忌標榜是用富士山上流到地下的雪水-伏流水釀製,水性柔軟而且更加清純潔淨,當然是釀製威士忌最佳材料。

 

權威世界威士忌大獎WWA在2007年成立,自此一直對酒壇有重大影響力,在2016年三月中,富士御殿場蒸餾所憑著25年單一穀物威士忌摘下全球最佳穀物威士忌名銜,回想起第一屆時竹鶴21年和響30年也分別拿下全球最佳混調麥芽威士忌大獎和全球最佳混調威士忌大獎。在2013年富士御殿場為了紀念蒸餾所四十週年和日本富士山獲得世界文化遺產殊榮,特別生產27年單桶Single Cask單一穀物威士忌,數量只有一百瓶,這是日本單一穀物的經典。

 

最近有機會品嚐富士御殿場25年單一穀物,使用較細小體積木桶陳年,所以熟成的時間較短。筆者喜歡單一穀物應該是受Clan Denny影響,在澳門麥卡倫吧喝26年Invergordon和已關閉的Caledonian蒸餾所45年出品,每次喝過不亦樂乎。富士御殿場這瓶25年單一穀物威士忌,比Clan Denny 26年還好,比45年酒身較輕盈和淡定,後段是清香糖漿和熱帶水果,沒刻意地討好味覺,確是一瓶很優質的單一穀物威士忌。

 

2016年WWA大獎中,「響21年」也奪得全球最佳混調威士忌,可惜日本年份威士忌已愈見稀有,單一穀物更容易入口和價格一般較相宜,可算是另類選擇。但這瓶25年屬限量版small batch,相信被搶購也無可倖免,價錢亦不會便宜,原來最好的東西已經伴在身邊。