The Awamori/Shochu Spirit at the foundation of the Ryukyu line of Spirits with a smooth character and clean finish.
The Kumesen Distillery — Kumesen Syuzo — was founded in Okinawa, Japan, in 1952. Their first product was Awamori — a Shochu beverage distilled from special Indica rice and served at 30-40% ABV. Then in 1989 they began to age their Awamori in oak casks, creating a rice-based Whiskey. The products are exceptionally popular in the Japanese islands and the rich flavors of their signature Spirits are building a global fan base.
Kujira Ryukyu Whisky is the core, rice-based Whiskey that leads off the line-up. Although officially a "non-age statement" dram, the distillery declares that it has been aged in new, virgin white oak for more than three years. The warm, sub-tropical climate of the islands means that Whiskies mature faster. And since the casks are new, they easily deliver a ton of flavor to the party.
Smartass Corner #1: Awamori — the base Spirit — gets its name from the fermentation process. The word translates loosely as "rising swelling bubbles" and the fermentation is started with black koji from Okinawa.
Smartass Corner #2: The "Ryukyu" line of Whiskies from Kumesen Syuzo gets its name from the Japanese island chain stretching southwest toward Taiwan from mainland Japan. This chain includes hundreds of islands from small coral atolls to large mountainous islands, the largest of which is Okinawa.
A bit of acetone on the nose, but not overly harsh. The taste is excellent and extremely smooth. Excellent flavors linger for awhile.
Definitely sweet toffee, almost banana-like roundness on the nose, with a bright jasmine, perfume presence throughout. Agree with some reviews that the finish could dance a bit longer.
Wow wow wow. Intriguing nose but flavor is outstanding.
Very smooth and fruity. Really nice.
This was a gift to my husband and he loved it!! It is the perfect Saturday night drink for him.
As everyone else said, overwhelming toffee and oak flavor. Much sweeter and smoother than I expected, but I'm not complaining at all. By the third sip, I was in love.
Like a decent bourbon (sweet, vanilla, oak, toffee and a simple evolution) but with a little surprise. I am not disappointed, but to me this was more of a surprise because of what I've come to expect from Japan. That said, this is an expensive Bourbon substitute. Fun experiment but nothing exceptional enough to make me pay $80 for it.
Excellent caramel and toffee notes.
Sweet not harsh flavor
Excellent! Smooth, great flavors throughout.
Best of the tasting box. Nice sweet taste.
Reminds me almost more of a string sake rather than whiskey. Very mild as a whiskey in terms of alcohol feel. Very smooth.
Toffee is indeed the first note that comes to mind.
While I can drink it neat all day, not sure if I would buy it as a full bottle as it feels a bit simplistic.
Boy the Japanese have done it 👍🏼
Smells like an oatmeal Carmel cookie and the flavor profile doesn't disappoint. My favorite japanese whiskey this far.
The fruits in this one makes it taste like a cognac to me. I enjoyed it as a different expression.
Vanilla for sure, nice color and not unpleasant but reminded me more of a cheap bourbon, I'd hate to pay the full price for a bottle
My first foray into Japanese whisky and I was NOT disappointed. On the nose it was heavy on the fruit and floral notes with a hint of spice. On the tongue it was just the same except more toffee and vanilla. My only complaint and why it's a 9 and not a 10 is the finish was too quick. All of the flavors were there and then they weren't. Happy to go back for another sip though.
Very mild. Smooth. Good for newbie whiskey drinkers.
I don't even know what I tasted here. Definitely no toffee.
A really bland and boring dram
Definitely got the floral hit early (in a Glencairn glass) apparently that’s jasmine? Bright, but softened with the sweet flavors.
Nose was sharp a astringent. But, tasted pretty good. Toffee, vanilla, nice oaky balance.
Flat, oak, wood
I found this to be very smooth, vanilla comes through with assertiveness about halfway through
Toffee flavor hits immediately, followed by the sweet. You briefly taste the saltiness before finishing smoothly.
I couldn’t taste the “jasmine” though.
Very harsh alcohol taste.
Really clean whisky. I enjoyed it.
Love it. First time tasting a rice whisky. Definitely something different, not for everyone. Sweet, smooth. Toffee, vanilla very evident.
Great simple flavor, notes of toffee, raspberry and vanilla
Okay; toffee creamy then; gone. Not much to list after
It was ok
Of the three whiskeys in the Whiskey is Big in Japan tasting set, this one offered the most attractive flavor.
My second favorite from the blind taste test. Quite toffee forward with vanilla bringing up the rear guard. Overall, very drinkable, but I had to work to find the “jasmine” notes, which are quite subtle to my nose.” I would buy a bottle.
Robust nose, strong oak flavor on palate, very nice finish.
This was decent, had a bit of a chemical taste at start to it but not to much
Advent #3. Phenol on the nose off the start but after sitting the vanilla becomes apparent. Taste is sweet and vanilla at the start and then oak. Several sips in and less oak and more brine. A slight burns lingers. Just isn’t working for me.
Advent find. Enjoyed. Nice complexity.
Liked the sweet and caramel taste and smooth finish. It's the first Japanese Whisky and I really enjoyed it. Not very strong though.
Didn’t love it, maybe is the rice.
Medium body; brine-vanilla aroma; caramel-sweet taste
Strong alcoholic start, smooth finish
Allowing that its rice whiskey and not my thing, I thought it had a very pleasant nose but oddly it had only unpleasant phenol tastes in the middle of palate and a bit of alcohol burn in the finish (strange for low proof), though with some promise around edges. Wouldn’t buy it but makes me wonder if the 8 year aged brings out the potential better?
Strong alcohols. Good after taste of toffee and pear. Just a perfect amount of sweet.
Very easy to sip. Nice sweet notes with a good aroma
Phenols on the nose. Quick, sweat bite followed by salty brine finish
Blind-tasting this in the advent calendar, I suspected it might be a rice whiskey since it reminded me of the Fukano ten year, but less sophisticated. I enjoyed the faint brine note, which kept the sweetness to be cloying, but overall it felt a bit thin and the finish too short.
Sweet, muted and not harsh. Warm down the pipe. Probably one of the better rice Whiskeys I’ve tasted.
Lots of Toffee and a little oak
Was very good, I do not have experience with japanese whiskeys however has made me interested in trying more
Total surprise. Very floral on the nose, and was not expecting to enjoy the flavor. But the floral notes are reasonably balanced. Not too spicy nor is there an overwhelming alcohol flavor.
Warm with a sweet finish
Not a big fan. Just ok. I little sweetness. Drop of water minutes everything.
Decent whiskey with a sweeter nose that opened up as it sat. Oaky and toffee were spot on, but ultimately not the most memorable Japanese expressions that I’ve tasted
I really enjoy the flavors this whisky delivers. My favorite Japanese whisky thus far!
Slightly sweet, with a hint of brine and a burn that shows its relatively young age. Pretty basic Japanese whisky, but not as grain forward.
Third day of Advent - Strong oak nose, very sweet palate and finish. Really enjoyed this dram.
Caramel on the nose and as the primary flavor. Relatively tasty but fairly one-note. Decent enough, but not one I’m likely to remember.
Simple drink, like the balance of sweet and salt-like. But a bit too simple
Enjoyable. Starts off a bit sweet, but has enough organic notes that build to balance it out. Clean finish.
Because it is not high proof, you get to experience the nose and the palate right off the bat. On Advent Whisky Night #3,, this tastes like the first good quality dram. Tons of toffee, not super layered or complex, but really good on this December night.
Oaky nose then a strong, off-note sweetness with no complementary flavors. Don’t recommend.
Not much complexity for me. Toffee/caramel up front with a slightly salty finish. I found it to be a bit rough
Oak and toffee
Smells better than it tastes; a little briny initially, and more so on back end and more end heat than expected or desired
Like the toffee and the floral
Not sure if I had a bad sampling bottle. The nose was paint thinner and medicinal yet very floral. The palate was floral and had a funk I wish I could describe. I was excited to try this but it’s pretty disappointing.
Not a fan of the flowery taste
Toffee on the nose but oak dominates the palate. It is okay, but not inspiring.
Decent flavored, with a pleasant balance of flavors and a nice sweet, floral, fruity lingering finish.
Sweet and smooth with that burn on the tail
It's not bad, but nothing to write home about. I got some notes of Jasmine and a nose of toffee, but it really just tasted like well whiskey to me. Not bad, but if I had a bottle I wouldn't cry if it was used for cocktails.
Not much other than oak on the nose and the taste isn't much more. Ultimately there are much better options for Japanese whisky out there.
Strong bite and the toffee notes aren’t enough to redeem it
Strong bite, heavy woody flavor (but not oaky...) long after taste. Kind of reminds me of a cheep scotch.
(Advent 2020, #3) In the nose a little oak and sweetness (Carmel?). Interesting flavor, again the oak, vanilla, carmel, and something else (looked on the card and saw brine - guess that's what I'm tasting). The finish is pretty good
Drinks like and age statement.
Toffee forward with a very sweet aftertaste. However a strong alcohol bite holds it back a bit
rice cough medicine.
(Advent 2020 #3) Have wanted to try Japanese whiskey. Strong bite. Toffee comes through. Not to my taste
Predominately orange in the nose, with some caramel.
(Advent 2020 #3) toffee forward with hints of oak, slightly sweet with hints of fruit on backend.
Not bad, wouldn't turn it down, but won't buy 9ver our other favorites.