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Takamine 8 Year Koji-Fermented Japanese Whiskey


Dr. Jokichi Takamine, a Japanese chemist living in Illinois, first applied koji fermentation to American whiskey in the 1890s. While American whiskey using the Takamine Method never made it to market, Shinozaki Distillery has revived the process to make whiskey. After multiple experiments to find the right balance and taste, Takamine Whiskey was born. Koji , a mold, is well known in Japan for its use in the making of miso, sake, and soy sauce, but is rarely used outside of these traditional methods in Japan or elsewhere. 

The Takamine 8-Year-Old has a mash bill of 100 percent pearled two-row barley. The whiskey uses 40 percent koji-fermented barley and 60 percent steamed barley. It takes four days to process; two days for the koji propagation and two days for a two-stage open fermentation. It then goes through double pot-still distillation to 86.7% ABV. Finally, virgin American oak and ex-bourbon casks are used for maturation. 

The nose is herbaceous with fresh garden mint, lemon verbena, and thyme. Jasmine and baby powder linger in the background. Near the end, Werther’s Original candies come to mind. Overall, the nose has layer upon layer of aroma. The taste is earthen with mushroom, grass, and a touch of smoke amidst a small amount of vanilla. The finish lingers on citrus oils and a hint of peppercorn. Bottled at 40% abv.