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IMG_1079Proof: 106
Color: medium red/amber
Nose: vanilla, brown sugar, toasted pecan, orange peel
Taste: cloves, cinnamon, pecans, pepper
Finish: hot & long
Value: decent

As you’ll recall, I previously reviewed Kaiyō’s “Regular” offering and found it extraordinary.

This time around, I’m spending some quality time with Kaiyō’s Cask Strength offering.

“Cask Strength” is the distiller’s way of telling you that you are buying a bottle that’s as close to straight-from-the-barrel as they can get without burning your tongue off. Personally, I’ve found few cask strength offerings that were to my taste; for the most part, I find that they’re too hot to drink straight & too expensive to water down.

As for my feelings here, well the “Let’s not mince words™” statement sums that up:

Kaiyō Whisky Cask Strength is a bold and big whisky, lacking in subtlety.

I’ll freely admit, after reviewing the last bottle Kaiyō Whisky, I had high expectations for this Cask Strength whisky. Expectations may very well be my downfall here. That said, there is a very specific flavor and characteristic found in the lower-proof whisky not found here.

Read on and find out.

We’ll start with the scent. Exotic vanilla, warm brown sugar, toasted pecans and fresh orange peel are present. Thankfully, no nose singe! My nostrils were happily treated to scents with no burn that one might find other high-proof boozes. And yet… something is amiss.

For all my whining and complaining, this is still a damn fine spirit.

The taste is 94% spices, with a kick of pecans. So what’s missing? Sadly, the coconut.  That exotic coconut flavor found in “regular” Kaiyō Whisky never makes its presence known.  To me, that is a sad thing indeed. That particular note is, to my mind, the key distinguishing characteristic of Kaiyō.

The finish is hot. Not surprising with the high proof of cask strength. But there’s no subtle creaminess… no velvety coating.  Again, I’ll blame the higher proof.

Yes, a splash of water brings a few spices more clearly into focus, but the coconut and velvety finish are still missing in this bottle.

All that said; in a blind taste test, I’d wager that very few trained professionals could tell Kaiyō Whisky Cask Strength from Highland Scotch. For all my whining and complaining, this is still a damn fine spirit.

As with my last review, I sipped through a full ounce. My lips and tongue continued to tingle all the way through. This told me that I was still dealing with a quality offering. The toasted pecan note seemed to make itself more and more present as I finished the ounce, but no further flavors or scents appeared. And yes, to the last drop, it reminded me of fine Scotch.

While Kaiyō Whisky Cask Strength may not be my favorite offering from Kaiyō, still:

Final Rating: 89 out of 100