Tokyo Tastings: Joker, Mars and Ichiro

Back to Zoetrope, my favourite Japanese whisky bar in Tokyo. This time I wasn't rushing so had time to enjoy my whiskies and chat with Horigami-san, the owner, about his collection and his love for film. Will save the details of the conversation and get straight to the whisky!
This is no joke!
The first dram that I was keen on trying was the Ichiro's Malt Hanyu Joker, which is the final release from Ichiro's famous Card Series that sold out pretty quickly even though there were 3,690 bottles released. A shame he did not have the 1st release, which was a black and white Joker, to do a comparison but heaven knows how expensive it would have been.
Comments: Hint of nail varnish and mint on the nose followed by floral and cherry scents. The mouth is chewy with a mish mash of chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, peaches with a nice dallop of spice. The taste just keeps evolving in the mouth and it's hard to pin down an exact flavour profile. A very complex and unique dram in that regard. Truly an important piece of Japanese whisky history!
 Mars Attack!
Next up was an interesting pair of whiskies from Mars, which is from the Shinshu distillery located in the Nagano prefecture. Mars is probably the only Japanese distillery that does not export it's whisky so it's pretty rare to find it outside of Japan. I was quite excited to try 2 single casks, one sherry butt and the other American white oak, both aged 12 years and distilled in 1992, the year Shinshu stopped production before restarting again in 2011 focused on blended whiskies.
Mars Single Cask Sherry Butt #1124: Heavy sherry notes with pomegranate and a spicy, slightly oily finish. Not too bad!

Mars Single Cask American White Oak #1143: Vanilla, apricots and peaches are the variety of the day. Finish is again slightly spicy with a feinty finish. Quite yummy actually and I preferred this just slightly more than the sherry cask.
My eyes were probably bloodshot as well by then
For the last dram of the night I spotted a curious looking bottle with the Zoetrope label on it. A special edition Ichiro's Malt bottled for Zoetrope! This one is unique as it was finished in a rum cask. Why not give it a shot?
Comments: A little sharp on its own and really opened up with a few drops of water. Lemon zest and apples followed by a small wave of pepper and bittergourd. The finish is pretty long and you can taste hints of the rum cask which gives it a spicy and nutty kick at the end.

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