Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish Review

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Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish is the third in the distillery's Omakase series. This rye whiskey is first aged in American new charred oak barrels and then aged further in Japanese Mizunara barrels, in Japan. So how does the spicy Japanese oak affect the rye? Read our full review to find out!
Hatozaki Whiskey
Omakase Rye Third Edition
Mizunara Cask Finish
Kaikyō Distillery, Hyogo, Japan
84 Proof
Price $95.00
Review

Please enjoy our Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish Review!

Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish is produced at the Kaikyō Distillery, on the shores of the Seto Inland Sea, in Hyogo, Japan. Hatozaki is named for the Hatozaki Lighthouse sitting on the coastline near the distillery. It is the oldest stone lighthouse in Japan, built in 1657, and serves as the namesake and inspiration for the whisky.

Omakase: Chef’s Choice

The inspiration for the name of Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish comes from the age-old Japanese concept of “omakase.” Known as “chef’s choice” in Japanese dining, the Omakase series mirrors the idea of trusting the maker’s intuition – allowing for delightful experimentation of flavors and new exploration. Therefore, this new limited-edition expression showcases the aging and finishing techniques of Kimio Yonezawa, 4th generation Master Distiller & Blender at Kaikyō Distillery. When speaking about this whiskey, Yonezawa-san said “I was excited to experiment with the flavors of rye, a popular category with American whisky drinkers, and see how they would respond to native Japanese oak influence.”

Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish Review
The Third Edition

After both visiting the Hatozaki web site, and reading the press release for this rye, it is difficult to find out much about the two prior Omakase Editions. The best I can tell, either the first and/or second Omakase Edition(s) is/are called “Pure Malt” and is/are an 8 year old blend of malt whiskeys aged in American and Mizunara oak.

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The Process

Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish was initially distilled and aged in new charred oak barrels in the United States. It was then transported to Japan for secondary aging in Japanese Mizunara casks. Unfortunately, the mash bill is not given, other than to say that it contains at least 51% rye. By definition, in the US, rye whiskey has to made with at least 51% rye in the mash bill. So, that information really doesn’t give us much to go on. Less than 3000 numbered bottles were produced, to be sold only in the US market.

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Tasting Notes

Let’s taste it:

🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn

👉🏻Nose: Dry oak and balsa; pears and sweet blackberry jam; light rye spices become more evident after a few sips; brown sugar and maple; hint of smoke and char; light alcohol vapor
👉🏻Taste: Dry wood; light pear and tangy apricot; brown sugar; developing black pepper
👉🏻Finish: Notes of mesquite; lingering fruit; rye spices remain fairly subtle; mild barrel char; dry oak; late growing black pepper; fairly long finish; minimal burn

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Not Your Typical Rye

The Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish is not your typical rye. In the nose, there is ample fruit, such as pears and sweet blackberry jam. Those are joined by dry oak and balsa that has a touch of sharpness. Rye spices are fairly light, but present. There’s also some sweetness from brown sugar and maple, as well as just a hint of smoke and barrel char. The alcohol vapor is fairly mild.

The taste brings more dry wood, as well as pears and tangy apricots. Brown sugar sweetness is relatively mild, and black pepper spice begins to grow, and continue into the finish. Later on, there are tangier, sharper wood notes, like mesquite, with lingering fruit and brown sugar, mild barrel char, dry oak and mild rye spices.

Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish Review
The Effects of the Mizunara Cask

Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish has a complex, but pleasant, taste. As it turns out, the Mizunara casks must be responsible for a significant portion of the flavor profile. The expected rye spices are there, but they are not the dominant player. In fact, they are secondary to the fruits and dry tangy wood, and later on, the black pepper spice.

While Hatozaki Omakase Rye is quite an enjoyable whiskey, it does not have flavors that the average American rye fan would likely be expecting. Few American whiskey drinkers are familiar with Mizunara oak, and likely would not be anticipating its affect on the rye. As far as the Japanese Whisky drinker goes, they may be more accustomed to some of Omakase Rye’s flavors, but then the rye spices and black pepper might be a bit of a surprise.

Conclusion

This limited expression will be sold only in the US. Therefore, I am assuming that the target audience is the rye whiskey drinker looking for something just a little bit different. And that is exactly what they will find in this whisky. I’ll be interested to know how it is received. Have you tried Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish? What did you think? Cheers!🥃

We hope you have enjoyed our Hatozaki Omakase Rye Mizunara Cask Finish Review! Would you like to read about another bourbon that has both American and Japanese influence? Then check out our Legent Bourbon Review! You also may be interested in our Suntory World Whiskey Ao Review.

Note: The sample was provided by the brand for my review.

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