Ep. 34 - Kaiyo and LHK Spirits' Brand Ambassador Jay Cole

OCEAN AGED WHISKY // So, is whisky aged at sea a gimmick or the real deal? Find out.

Listen to the Episode

Show Notes

It's time for a deep dive (pardon the pun) into ocean aged whisky and Japanese whisky - as my guest is LHK Spirits and Kaiyo Whisky brand ambassador Jay Cole.

And the way I was introduced to Kaiyo whisky was actually through a Flaviar tasting box, where I sampled three different whiskies. And I was so enamoured with the unique flavors and complexity of Kaiyo's Japanese Misunara Oak, that I had to pick up a bottle for myself.

And during this episode, I'll be doing a tasting of one of the whiskies that Jay sent to me back in January. We were going to do the interview then, but then I was hit with a bout of COVID and lost my sense of smell. So we waited until May to do this interview and then I thought it would be the perfect pairing with the kickoff of the new season of the Whiskey Lore podcast, where my first episode is built around whisky aged at sea.

Here are some things we'll cover:

  • How he got started as a brand ambassador and sipping whisky
  • The meaning of the word Kaiyo
  • The rules of Japanese whisky
  • Kaiyo's place in Japanese whisky
  • Jeffery Karlovitch and the Lost Distillery project
  • Bringing scotch whisky concepts to Japanese whisky
  • Working with Mizunara Oak
  • How their whisky ages at sea
  • The scientific approach to testing whisky aged at sea
  • The reason for aging at sea
  • How are they keeping Kaiyo affordable
  • Orkney and Islay grains vs Japanese grains
  • The unique flavors and scents of Japanese whisky
  • The experience of a single cask bottling
  • Where it is available

Listen to the full episode with the player above or find it on your favorite podcast app under "Whiskey Lore: The Interviews." The full transcript is available on the tab above.

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Welcome to Whiskey Lore, the interviews I'm your host Drew Hannush the Amazon bestselling author of Whiskey Lore's travel guide to experiencing Kentucky bourbon. And today we're pardon the pun. We're going to do a deep dive into ocean aged whisky as well as Japanese whisky. And my guest is LHK spirits and Kaiyo whisky brand ambassador Jay Cole. And the way that that was introduced to Kaiyo whisky was actually through a Flaviar tasting box, where they sent me three different samples of Japanese whisky. And I was so enamored with the unique flavors and the complexity of the Kaiyo Japanese Mizunara Oak. I decided to go right to the store and get a bottle of it before it disappeared. Luckily, this is their flagship whisky. So this should be available wherever you are. If you're in the U S and it is around the globe as well.

Drew (00:01:13):
But during this episode, I'm actually going to be tasting a sample of a single cask version of that whisky that Jay sent to me and this interview was supposed to happen back in January, but because of me getting COVID, that meant no sense of smell, and I really didn't want to waste the sample. So we waited until may and then did this interview, but then the whisky lower season was over. So I wanted to do a story about whiskys at sea. And since this is aged at sea, it seemed perfect for that. So this has been waiting a long time for you to finally get a chance to hear. So I am excited to share this with you, and we've got a lot to cover in this episode. So let me start off by welcoming to the show. Jay Cole.

Jay (00:02:09):
Excellent. Thank you so much, sir. This is a pleasure to get to out, to talk to you. And just very much been looking forward to getting to chat with you about all these whiskys and the brands since that's what I get to work with day in and day out. I'm one of those luckier whisky geeks that was able to kind of finagle my way into the industry through just being that crazy obsessed whisky nerd. And then, you know, here we are now, so I get to do it as a career, which is I'm very lucky to do.

Drew (00:02:40):
Did you, stair-step through a, what, where did you start your whisky journey?

Jay (00:02:45):
It's actually very it's interesting in that when I was first starting to get into whisky much more heavily and really kind of find my footing in it as a just appreciator and one going to events. I met my now boss, who is the master blender for Kaiyo and for other brands that I work with with it within LH K, but I met him at an event. I went to this event with a very good friend of mine who was mutual friends with my now boss, and we just got introduced to each other, and this was well over 10 years ago. And then just as time went on, he knew that I was doing just events independently, either private tastings for friends or, or restaurants, or even some of the retailers around here. If there wasn't an ambassador that they had to call on to help just do an event, they would just say, Hey, could you help?

Jay (00:03:41):
And just, you know, talk about these and, and showcase them. So, yeah, of course. And then so this many years later, master blender reached out to me and say, would you like to consider a position working regionally in new England, I live in Massachusetts working regionally in new England, in the Northeast with these whiskys that I'm working on with Kaiyo. And and I said, of course, absolutely. That's what I think almost every single whisky nerd out there is aspiring to, to get to that, to get to that point. So it was a great it was a great form of just kind of connecting those dots as, as organically as you could possibly get that from a from that geek standpoint, it wasn't a starting, like obviously people in industry, you either start meeting by bartending or working for a distributor as a sales rep and kind of climb the ladder that way. And this was just me wanting to get into whisky as much as I could, and just surround myself with it, learn everything there is. And then now here I am, it was a good journey. Yeah.

Drew (00:04:43):
Yeah. Were you a bourbon drinker before that? Or did you just kind of a free agent you were jumping around or whatever you could try?

Jay (00:04:50):
I was jumping around, but it was a lot of single malt scotch. That's what really drew me into whisky overall. And it's funny if I'm ever doing a seminar and people ask me, you know, how I got my taste for whisky. It really started, I think a lot of people have a similar type of story where you're just kind of maybe drinking whisky maybe younger than you should be. But I was, I was with some friends, I remember one of them having a bottle of Glenlivet 12 and we just thought that was, that was, you know, living the higher life because, you know, before that we were just used to drinking much more cheaper stuff. And it was just one of those things like, Hey, I, I, I really enjoy the taste of this. There's no need to be shooting this. I want to try, I want to try more.

Jay (00:05:36):
I want to learn more. And luckily I had some friends that were much older than me at the time and they kind of took me under their wing and just said, okay, well, here's, here's the good stuff. And then, you know, I went from scotch to Irish and then circling back and then getting a better education on everything else that was being made here in the states. And then just on and on and on and on, and more events and more seminars. And, you know, being the person in the front row, always, always with a, with a hand array is wanting to know even more. So that was the kind of trajectory that led me to here.

Drew (00:06:09):
So Kaiyo means what

Jay (00:06:12):
Ocean IO means, ocean all the whiskys prior to us bottling them, stay in their caste and matured at sea for about three months, 90 to a hundred days. It depends obviously on the ships overall route and, and their timeline. But we literally are going around the world. We have to two major pathways, I guess you could say leaving from Japan and ultimately ending and stopping port in Liverpool, England. So that's actually where we bottled. So we do do things a little bit differently as far as that stage of our whisky goes so that we are not actually bottled on the island, Japan.

Drew (00:06:56):
Okay. And this brings about all those questions about Japanese whisky rules, because we're very strict about what, you know, bourbon is. We're not as strict about what an American single malt is. Canada's a little loose on what Canadian whisky is. Just don't put the E in the name. You know, Scotland has their specific rules for a single malt. So where is Japan right now in terms of their rules? I know there's been talk about, they need to get some rules, but has that transpired or is it in motion that at this point,

Jay (00:07:31):
There are definitely some things in motion at the very wash it's at the very beginning of the year, but around early February. And I would guess you probably saw a lot of these same articles starting up to be shared around in there has been people screaming for a very long time, about a better definition and a better classification of what constitutes Japanese whisky, because the category overall has been kind of like the wild west, but it's been done or the production, the philosophy of Japanese whisky has been done really that way since its founding, since it really kicked off in those early twenties, when you had the gentlemen that would found Nika and found Suntory and obviously move forward with all those brands, the, the practice of introducing whisky that maybe was produced outside of the country and then marrying and blending that in with Japanese Mae products.

Jay (00:08:34):
That was just part of the, of the normal process. That was part of the philosophy. And obviously since then, in the more recent years, whisky drinkers are becoming much more educated than they were, and they're wanting to dial in. They want to know what it is that they're drinking and how it's been, how it's been made. There's more of us. There's moral seeks out there now that really want to, you know, to have a deep dive into it. So because of that, there's been a number of proposed standards and these standards have come through basically from a group of Japanese producers wanting to say, Hey, this is collectively, we're getting together to want to say, this is how we define Japanese whisky. And part of those proposals are that it is entirely made on the island. And there is no, there is no addition of any liquid coming from outside of the country.

Jay (00:09:27):
And then it's also being aged in the island for at least three years. Both of those parts Kaiyo has been doing since the very beginning, when we first started maturing our first liquid we do, we do things a little bit differently in the way that we don't have a physical distillery yet we have the plans in place, but the, the, the launching of the brand and what we've been doing since the launch is laying down our own casks with, with Ross' spirit, with new make, that is produced for us in Japan. And it's completely a hundred percent malted barley spirit. So it's made to our staff, our specifications, our standards, and we lay those casts down. Most of which is all missing our Oak. As you, as you touched on and getting into the flavor VR kit that you had received, so everything does touch Mizunara one way or another, just as all the whiskys in our family received the ocean maturation point, but to make a long production story short, everything starts, everything starts as Ross' spirits.

Jay (00:10:28):
We laid down the casks and then we matured everything on the island for at least three years. And then after that point, even though this hasn't been deemed a law yet our, our blender and I should, I, I should make sure that I circled back around his name is Jeffrey Carla Vich. And if that name sounds more American than it does Japanese it's because he is an American, he spent his whole entire career within the world spirits category working with a lot of scotch whisky working with actually consulting with a number of Japanese producers earlier on years ago, before he had developed Kyle,

Drew (00:11:07):
He actually had a very interesting project, I think at one point that I don't know if he still is doing this or any of the bottles still exists. This last distillery concept of that they're, you know, there are scotch distilleries that no longer exist and he was blending whiskys to match those like a Glen Keith or some, you know, a distillery like that, that it now exists again. And I think they are producing again, but but they were gone for long periods of time. How much of that history do you know of what he was doing? And if those bottles are still out there that he created,

Jay (00:11:47):
I believe there are some still in the wild. After after his time, he no longer blending for the losses Stillery company. He ascends just moved on to these other projects, but he was the one that really kicked that out, out into the, into the open and worked with the first few expressions that were released under, under that brand, which were phenomenal. I was a very big fan and that idea of using modern whisky to create a, to create something that existed years and years ago that no one will ever have the chance to get their hands on. Again, of course, unless they have some very good connections and able to get an, a bottle auction or some it's kind of passed down through a family member or something like that. So it was just between his time with loss of Stillery.

Jay (00:12:41):
Prior to that, he also worked with Buena Hoben [inaudible] consulting with Glenn Morin, G he spent a lot of time in Scotland's and just immersed himself in the scotch whisky industry. And with a lot of those ideals that are already established in scotch, he brought to Kaiyo, obviously Japan, for anyone who has been following the Japanese whisky, a rise in popularity, their roots are certainly grounded. within scotch, you see a lot of the first distilleries operating a number of those same production principles, but there's a couple of things that were done more and are still done, obviously in the scotch world that Jeff wanted to bring to the table. And one of those was also keeping all the whiskys on shell filtered. So, whereas a lot of Japanese producers do chill filter, and there's nothing wrong by them choosing to do that. It's just more of what has been again, their philosophy.

Jay (00:13:41):
They bring everything into account, whether it be the flavor profiles, keep everything balanced, or the aesthetics, it's a complete package for how they want their whisky to be on how they want their whisky to be enjoyed and interpreted. And one of those things is the non chill filter. And, but Jeff saw that there is a little bit more depth to be had and a difference in character. So he wanted to make sure that the whisky that he has been working with, cause he saw this potential to get to work with these, these Japanese philosophies on creating whisky. And he saw that they're way far back before the rise has taken place. So we had casks being laid down a long, long time ago to get ready for the initial Kyle launch. And it just really grew from there. His goal was to just make the best whisky that he could. And he saw that in using the Japanese philosophies and the Japanese ingredients being the Mizunara Oak as one of the prime foundations and, you know, platforms to, to push that whisky forward. Yeah,

Drew (00:14:43):
Mary, I mean, Ms. Minero does it just grow in Japan?

Jay (00:14:48):
There are other subspecies that are going to be somewhat similar. The closest one that would be for us here in the states would be Ariana that Westland has used for a number of, of their releases, but it's a very, very alternative would in the sense that it's very hard to work with. It's very difficult to Cooper a cask. The wood itself is very soft in character, which makes it very porous and very prone to leakage. And on top of that, it's very expensive. So you couple these things together it it's one of the reasons why you don't see many brands that are doing full term maturations, there's certainly been a bit of a a rise in popularity of missing our finished whiskys, but for, for us right now, we've been the only, the only whisky producers to, to go and release full term Mizunara matured whisky is just because that it's not a small undertaking, there's, there's a significant expense and investment into it.

Jay (00:15:49):
And just to know that the return of the whisky that you're going to get from that casket, the end, when you're going to get ready to bottle is going to be a lower on top of just general operation. Our angel share with aberration and leakage can, can be upwards of 7% and higher. So it's quite a lot in just less liquid loss, but it's one of those double-edged swords that at the end, when you are able to, to enjoy these whiskys and sip them, you're getting these flavors and aromas that just aren't a part of any other species of Oak or any kind of Oak that would have been used prior because so much out there as American Oak or are used bourbon barrels. This is all totally different animal in the way of these fruit components, the sandal, what spice a very definitive honey character can be found. So it puts a whole new spin on these flavors that just haven't been quite there before. I think whisky drinkers on top of wanting to be more educated. They've also been a lot more open to trying these, all these just other, not quite as mainstream production thoughts, and that's, what's helped us to certainly get the growth that we've seen over the last couple of years, because we've only been around since 2017. That's when the brain officially launched. And the first, the first expressions were released.

Drew (00:17:11):
I get this romantic picture of this barrel of whisky sitting on a schooner as it's. What, what is what's reality? What, what, how does this cask sit on on the boat and what kind of boat is this thing floating on?

Jay (00:17:30):
I really wished that I could say that it is this beautiful schooner or this or this picture perfect, a yachts or a sailboat, or even more, you know, a giant pirate ship with, with, with black sails. It's unfortunately not as romantic as that we're working with containers to shipping containers and on a container ship. Now we have strategic places on that container ship and how these barrels are going to be laid out and just strapped in for the ride. So to speak,

Drew (00:18:04):
If you put it into a metal container, then it kind of inhibits the salt sea air from being able to get to the CAS.

Jay (00:18:13):
Correct. And that, so these are not fully sealed. They are, they are not fully sealed to the elements and obviously most of the containers would be. So there's a lot of things that come into play and securing those casks so that they're not just rolling around in there because obviously that's a very big possibility of women either leaking or cracking open, which I'm pretty sure may or may have not happened along some of these, some of these journeys, but it's the price to pay for, for maturing whisky this way and putting this added step into the production process, but they're all, all these casks are loaded into a container. They are secured. The container is left on the top deck of the ship, because obviously we want to be having that interaction with the air that has, as you said, but also the temperature changes because we're going from a number of different climates all around the world.

Jay (00:19:08):
We're leaving from Osaka Japan. After I said after, at least that three-year point with our whiskys, the first round of whiskys were actually much much more older as far as their time spent on Japan. But we've since been experimenting with whiskys that have been starting in Japan and how long we let them further mature in our Liverpool England warehouse, which is where we went to and where, where we bottle. But that process over three months, we're going from hot to cold, cold to hot. So we're seeing a number of different interactions with the wood. And of course, for for the American minded, you know, whisky, whisky drinkers out there Jefferson's is obviously a name that comes up very often when I'm doing a seminar or a tasting and it's, and it's a similar process as to what they're doing. And I have to reference a really good article that was written about, I want to say two or three years ago now.

Jay (00:20:04):
And it was done through popular mechanics and it was whichever sin ads at the forefront and it spoke about their whisky and how it has changed through their use of aging at sea. And they, they used an experiment, a very a very good way to see, okay, what, what is happening overall? They had whisky that was laid down in their barrel in Louisville, Kentucky. And they kept that there in there in the Louisville warehouse, they took a barrel, a sister barrel that was you know, filled right next to it. And it was put I'm assuming on a barge or some kind of a boat, but in its cask sent down the Mississippi river down to the Gulf coast. And then over the ocean came up to the east coast following, following the the Atlantic all the way up to New York, which is I believe where the popular mechanics office was.

Jay (00:21:01):
And then both the, both the samples, the one that traveled on the ocean and the original one that stayed in the warehouse were put together and a lab test was run on those. And we were speaking about this earlier. So it's, it's a great way to kind of connect it. All lab tests were run at a, at a, a facility out my way in Massachusetts towards out near the Boston area. And they looked at a lot of those, those really chemical based levels of acidity, certain alcohol components. And I wish I could speak more eloquently on the science of things I decide I can, I can geek out as far as tasting and talking about production. I just don't. I just don't sound that good talking science sometimes, but but what they found with their charts at the end of the day was flavors that they equated to with these certain acids and certain alcohols some were much more present specific alcoholic component types.

Jay (00:21:59):
Some are much more present in the whisky that stayed in the Louisville warehouse. And these ended up being flavors that I would say throughout the testing group, people acquaintance to being a younger whisky, it tasted younger, it tasted hotter. Whereas those spikes were there in their overall tests with, with the what the, the state and the Louisville, those spikes were not there on the whisky, the head traveled down the Mississippi river and then up the coast finally going to New York. So it's, it was a very interesting depth to see, not that the ocean and and maturation point outside of the warehouse was adding it's actually what it was bringing back. And it was dialing back those those tones and those aromas and certain flavors. Like I said, that people tend to say, well, that that's a, that's a younger, that's a younger flavor or a younger feeling whisky.

Jay (00:22:57):
So really, really great article. And I kind of showed some more light to that idea that the idea of maturing spirits at sea, which has been done for, for a long, long time, we're certainly, Kyle's not the first to do it. Neither was Jefferson's. But there is a very, very definitive reason for doing this and has a profound effect. It's not this big marketing ploy, because honestly at the end of the day, it costs a lot of money to transport whisky like this. You're essentially, you're, you're renting space on these, on these ships. And that's no small feat, so there's a lot that goes into it.

Drew (00:23:34):
So I, my first knowledge of that goes back to Madeira, which was a port wine that in the 15th century, they started producing this. And along the time that they were shipping it to the to the east Indies and to the new world, it was aging, as it went along and picking up some of the sea characters, some spiciness, but nobody back in on the Madeira islands, which are off of the African coast and part of Portugal, nobody knew that their product was actually getting better as it went across the sea until somebody shipped one back. And when it got shipped back, they went, wow, this is really interesting. This is something that we need to do. I had heard a rumor that there were actually still people producing Madeira and sending it out on ships around the world. I don't know if that's actually true or not.

Drew (00:24:34):
Cause I know nowadays kind of like with last distillery, there are techniques to be able to mimic aging. And of course they were doing that all the way back when they were doing whisky rectifying in the U S you know, around the bottled in bond era turn, turn of the previous century to, to be able to add flavors. And we do this with our food also. But there there's something to be said about you know, having the, the actual process done and paying that little bit extra for an ocean at sea Jeffersons or Kaiyo whisky as well. Although what I will say is that missing their Oak is not cheap at all.

Jay (00:25:25):
It is not

Drew (00:25:26):
Sailing your whisky around the world is not be there. And yet when I went to the store and I bought this, I was amazed to see that it was in the 60, $65 range, which would put it in with some of the, like the mainstream scotches, I would say of pricing. How do you end up, you know, keeping this from getting out because the other problem is that if you're producing in Japan and maybe you can speak to this a little bit we all know that part of the reason why Japanese whisky is so expensive is because they kind of got caught by surprise at how popular Japanese whisky got, and they weren't, they hadn't produced enough and he got to wait to produce a whisky. So kind of talk through that, that whole thing about how you keep this affordable and second of all, how you're dealing with the shortage of whisky and in Japan.

Jay (00:26:27):
Absolutely. The first part of that is where we have a very strong and a very, very good relationship with our coop bridge, which is the [inaudible] bridge in Japan. And they're producing all of our Mizunara casks for us. And we're certainly, again, not the only ones using Mizunara in our, in our production line, but we do have the largest stock of Mizunara casks being made. So for that reason, although the wood is extremely expensive, about $5,000, is that going rate, give or take, it's always going to fluctuate, but that is basically about 10 times more than your, than your average brand new American Oak bourbon barrel, 53 gallon. No, these would be a little bit larger. Typically these aren't, these are larger, typically we're working with either 400 or 450 liter size casks. So obviously bigger than your standard bourbon barrel approaching more of like that Sherry butts size and we've found that larger casks it's a lot easier for us to control and keep the liquid insight for whatever reason, when we're working with smaller casks, the tendency to leak would be much, much higher.

Jay (00:27:44):
And it has to do with, again that, that the poorest quality of the wood Mizunara literally translates to water Oak. So it's just one of those, again, those, those caveats that were the smaller casks cause we've had every single version of every single cask you could possibly conceive to experiment with and see how, you know, our whisky would develop with it and the smaller Cassius unfortunate it didn't work. So the sweet spot is most certainly these 400, 450 liter casks. But we have this relationship with the [inaudible] bridge and they're making these casks for us. And it's certainly is an expensive feat. And luckily from the, the founding of, of the brand, when we first launched everything we had the right people willing to make the investment because this was not going to be something that was going to be cheap at all, especially because with many other brands, like you would see nowadays many are going to either develop other spirits to sell and try to get some revenue back like a Jenner of vodka.

Jay (00:28:48):
You see a lot of that here in the states, or they're going to purchase and select whisky it's already been completely matured and then release that, which there's no there's IC no issue with either those at all. Obviously it's, everybody has to start somewhere. We were just fortunate and being able to have the right money invested to lay down the cast herself and sit on them and not release it until Jeff said, okay, we're ready now because he is a very passionate person when it comes to the whisky that he's making and he does not cut any corners. And if he says it's not ready, or something's not, not fulfilling to his standards, then it's not going to see the light of day. So he's very, very strict about his babies, his casks, you know, when it comes to that. So to keep that we have obviously a lot of liquid laid down and as peculiar as it is, we're most excited right now, the casks that are our own that we will be seeing a second fill with.

Jay (00:29:46):
So although, so the whisky that you have on the table there that would have all been brand new brand name is a Nara we've already, since obviously dumped a number of casks to release batches of that whisky of that expression. But Jeff has most excited about what the second and when the third fills when that round comes to happen, because there's a, there's a very big spice push in Mizunara and it's very early years. A lot of times you're going to see that spice takeover. And that's why you didn't see a lot of Ms. Dinar releases when it was first being experimented with going back to say like the mid forties, mid fifties, because Japan was just beginning to experiment with their domestic Oak. And that was really a result of world war two trade embargoes. They could not get bourbon barrels or American Noack imported in.

Jay (00:30:36):
So they had to resort to experimenting and utilizing their domestic species of food. And in those first couple of years, it was just hugely big on the spice bitter, not, not getting those bigger fruit components that everyone knows Mr. NARS capable of producing now. And it wasn't till those extra years later, they went back and said, okay, we have something here. So Jeff is likens obviously. Well almost any, any whisky producer, a cask is like a teabag, obviously. The more times you use it, the, the flavors are going to be a bit, a bit more subdued, but in the case of Mizunara, it's much more that spice that Santa would intensity that drops and it helps push the fruit characters much more to the forefront. So that's why he's very excited to see the longer aged expressions and also the second and third fills. So it's going to be a while before that whisky sees the light of day, but when it does, I know he'll be very, very excited to get that released when it's ready.

Drew (00:31:41):
And so in terms of, of the spirits that you're getting in right now, I mean, you're, you're getting, again, just malt whisky. You're not getting in a neutral grain spirit

Jay (00:31:55):
That is correct everything. Everything is a hundred percent malt. And this is the case for the better entirety of Japan. The multi-process does happen outside the islands. So typically they're going to be looking at Scotland's you know, or, or barley say from maybe even Scandinavia area. So those mold things will happen outside the country, but they're going to import that grain and then do everything else there on the islands. Okay.

Drew (00:32:19):
Okay. Have you you've experimented with Peter I'm, I'm guessing then?

Jay (00:32:23):
Absolutely. We've had a couple of expressions and we will hopefully be debuting and releasing a very special edition version of a peated whisky early on in this year. And just because we don't have official dates in mind for that, whether it's being COVID does laid waste to international shipping logistics as a, as a complete nightmare. And I'm sure you've seen this with many other with any of the brands as well. But we have some very exciting things in the works. One of them being a peated expression, but we've released two others and they were utilizing Pete both coming from Orkney Scotland. And another addition that utilize Pete coming from Eila. So they both, they both took their, their characteristics, obviously, depending on, you know, where the peak was coming from, or he having that Heather honey style, more of a Highland park character.

Jay (00:33:14):
I love being much more of a coastal having a bit of salinity and salt. Yes. and there, obviously there are some other Japanese producers that have been using peed and Japan does have very small amounts of, of peat available to it. And they do have the ability to grow their own barley as well, but it, it's not going to be the same flavors. It's not going to be in the same quantities, as you can see throughout the UK and throughout Scandinavia, where if Japan wants to utilize their peat reserves, they'd wipe them out very quickly. But it is, it is that tip of the hat to that traditional, that traditional method of the malting process for barley. So it was something that we had to do, obviously with Jeff being such deeply rooted within the scotch industry, but he wanted to do that with a lot of care, because as with anything Japanese and Japanese whiskys, you don't see these big overly pungent, intense flavors.

Jay (00:34:17):
You see everything very, very, even very, very balanced and just not overpowering any other characteristic within the whisky. So the way that our peated whiskys were accomplished was first by using Madeira. So now we're going to get back to you're talking about Madeira. We laid down our new make into ex Madeira casks for just about two years, maybe a little bit over two years. And then from there they were transferred to Mizunara and that means a NAR portion would last the first edition was about maybe five and a half years pushing six second. She was a little bit, a little bit older pushing six and so forth. But what you have is that Madeira helps Sue then and, and lessen the, the bite and intensity of that initial Pete hit. Cause you know, I'm going to, who's had whiskies from Aila can certainly say, you know, there's certainly, there's certainly buddy, like you think of your art bags and you're the frogs.

Jay (00:35:15):
And you're like bullets, they're certainly intense, especially people who may not enjoy that kind of, that kind of smoke character, but that Madeira really just helps round and just Sue that. So it becomes a very pleasant, almost a refreshing smoke if there is such a, a descriptor. So you have the Madeira sweetness playing with the Mizunara sweetness and those fruit characters. So you end up with this very, very well balanced S almost like a barbecue sweet type of smoke. I kind of liken it to like a Mesquite flavor. So it's made the peanut very, very popular scored very well on a number of reviews all over the certain groups that would be obviously looking at whiskys. So it's great because it's, I've, I've been able to pour that at events to people who may not be so far into the pita category, yet, as you were saying, you would use the Highland park to kind of maybe help get them in there or push them over the edge. And people have gone and sampled RP, didn't go, wow, this is not nearly as intense as I, as I was going to expect. And it's helped kind of broaden and open their eyes to another style of whisky they may not have enjoyed before.

Drew (00:36:25):
So it's interesting that you, you bring up that that barbecue note, because I actually pulled that, that's one of the notes I pulled out of this on the pallet. I listed it as, as sweet pork barbecue, and I'm like, I never tasted anything like that in a whisky before. But I was like the first time I tasted it, I'm like, I know that taste. I know that taste. And then God, I, I, you know, sometimes tasting notes are still tough for me. I mean, I've, I've really only been focusing on tasting for about two years and really diving in. And so I try to connect things and I try to take references. I know, and then break them down and say, you know, at first I say, okay, it's, it's a, you know, it, it smells floral to me. And then I have to dig a little bit more in and say, what kind of floral you know, is there a particular flower, is there a particular sensation, something that helps me kind of take a little bit deeper.

Drew (00:37:35):
So and I think that's where I love about complex whiskys, because it, it forces me to have to dive in hunt and then I miss something, or maybe I connect, you know, the dots between this and this, between tasting today and tasting next week. And suddenly I go, oh, wait, no, I know what that is. And then it all comes together. And with Japanese whisky, there has been, and I'm not getting it in this. But there, there has been a commonality of a note that I'm just not familiar with. And so you mentioned sandalwood, and that's not something that's a, a scent I'm probably overly familiar with at, at this point. How do you introduce those new flavors and sense to a public that is used to scotch or is to bourbon or, or something else?

Jay (00:38:39):
I think one of the best ways to look at it. Cause when the first time when I was first getting my mind wrapped around Mizunara whiskys and as I was coming into working with them and, and you described it perfectly, cause I used the same exact analogies and the idea of kind of starting broad in a, in a tasting sense and kind of working your way down. And I was always using that and said, you know, what, if I would do seminars, it would be for everybody to say, okay, are you tasting sweet? Are you taking, are you tasting spicy? Are you tasting floral? And then go, okay, what kind of sweet is it, is it a candy sweetness? Is it a fruit sweetness? And then just try to get that extra little step into something a little more precise. And that was just the way I'd always thought about it.

Jay (00:39:22):
That's the way I was kind of taught. And then I was actually in a I was actually in a seminar here in the states and John Campbell from LA Freud was over and he was working his way through the whiskys. And he said almost the exact same thing verbatim as we just said. And I went okay, if that's what he's saying, I feel pretty good about keeping that, that same suggestion, you know, for people that might attend an event that I'm going to help, you know, take them through. And when, okay, awesome. If John Campbell is saying it, then, then I, then yeah, let's, let's sort of go back specifically, as far as the Santa was sense, go is, it is a very peculiar flavor and then you don't see that very often or, or, or an aroma rather because with Mizunara you hear always people talk about a vanilla character in almost any whisky.

Jay (00:40:12):
I would say almost it doesn't matter if it's going to be obviously much more heavy and prominent in bourbon, but certainly be a component in almost any single malt scotch, but what kind of vanilla are you talking about? And within that sandalwood, it has that certainly Oak spice to it. And it brings in this idea of vanilla, but it's not the vanilla that we think about with bourbon. It's not that more heavy syrupy sense of vanilla. It's much more of a floral almost kind of like an incense style. And so acquainting the incense. It, I think it helps put a better idea of sandalwood together for some people that may end up, you know, they're not probably sticking their, their noses down a, a Mizunara cask or walking through you know, home Depot and you know, where can I find, you know sandalwood. Yeah,

Drew (00:41:02):
Yeah, exactly. It's going to cost you a lot. Lumber's expensive these days. Sorry.

Jay (00:41:07):
Yeah, absolutely. Especially if you wanted to make a house out of Mizunara, that's going to be a very tall. But yeah, I think, I think just working, working with those more general descriptors, like you had just mentioned, but then kind of putting that in perspective and then saying, okay, you know, there are other kinds of vanilla out there. There's not just the one done and it does help put a picture together, especially when there's been a art, people have written some, some great books and descriptors of Mizunara. And the talk about this is the smell of Japan's the smell of the temples that you see. So it really puts together this mind's eye. And it introduces that idea of, of a, of a terroir scenario where there's something is very, very definitive Chapin. So obviously using these, this species of Oak and these Mizunara Oak trees, it just helps bring it all together and put it all into that, that trip you can take just through a blast. Yeah.

Drew (00:42:04):
I think exposure to maybe it's a trip to a Japanese restaurant and trying some things you haven't tried before. A good example would be that a friend of mine introduced me to lapsing Sue song tea, which is a black tea that comes from Japan, China and it's, it's a smoky tea. It's a black smoky tea and as a very distinct flavor to it. And when I first tasted this whisky I said black tea, but after tasting that specific black tea, now that's the black tea that I'm tasting in here because there's also that little hint of smoke that's coming in on top of it. And for me, it's just this a really nice way to finish this whisky because it lingers there. And then afterwards, if I want to go, you know, stop sipping on whisky and go have some tea, I, I can continue the experience on with, with this other other flavor, but it's this exposure issue. I think that is going to make a journey into Japanese whisky, an interesting one and maybe a little challenging on the tasting and, and nosing of, of a Japanese whisky.

Jay (00:43:25):
It does, it's going to keep people engaged. At least I hope they'll keep them engaged with it and kind of do exactly what we were saying as far as, okay. How can I connect that through the memory banks? What does that remind me of? Or then later to do something, oh, that was the notes that, that we worked at, we're trying to get earlier and that, that note of black tea that you're mentioning. So you, so you, you were, you had been sipping on our flagship. We just called him as an, our Ogar signature expression, a very, very black label, although we try not to refer to it as the black label because that's junk and we don't want to have to worry about and in our legal department context, if I, if I referred to as the black label, but obviously it's, it works beautifully in a bar because you can see a clear across the room. But with our cast drink expression, that was one of the first notes. This black tea that you're mentioning was something I found immediately. And that was one of the first times when I was being first introduced to these whiskys. I thought that was such a unique component that I had never seen or experienced before in, in a whisky.

Drew (00:44:33):
So this is the single cast, 1402 46 ABV. And so it's, it's basically, as you're saying, it's still a first fill barrel. It is a this, this is from a single casks versus this, which is a married blend of, of whiskys.

Jay (00:44:59):
Correct. And this would be bit maybe slightly older with our signature, with that black label right now on the shelf, you'd be seeing whisky that is about say eight years old maybe eight and a half, but it is all full term is a Nara. Whereas the, the single barrel that you have, that would be more along like nine almost maybe nine and a half. So a bit more time. And I think with those two whiskys back to back, you might just in the, in the overall mouthfeel, there might be a richer character that you're finding. It's a bit more of a, of a depth and creaminess. And obviously that's to do with maybe a little bit higher, the ABB as well, only talking 3%, but it certainly can, can showcase which just a little intricate differences where, where they may lie. Yeah.

Drew (00:45:48):
These whiskys are really interesting cause it's, it's a lot of whiskys. I will judge as soon as they hit my palette. And that's where usually I find the pleasure in a whisky. A pleasant finish is a nice bonus, but on these, I tend to almost look forward to the finish because so many other things seem to be going on in your mouth as you're sitting there contemplating the whisky after you've, after you've tasted it.

Jay (00:46:19):
Absolutely. I think these, I think these these whiskys develop very nicely just as you would think about, you know decanter for a line to let that kind of breathe. It's only been over the last say year to six months where I've spent a lot more time noticing just for whatever bottle I may go buy for myself and purchase from my, you know, my private Eno selection. How much difference a, the first pour out of the neck can be to actually letting a little bit of air into that bottle, or just letting that glass sit for a while and then just kind of let it, let it breathe a little bit, just like you would a wine. And I've been, I've been spending a much more time trying to pick up those differences and seeing that there is a lot of whisky out there that does react that way.

Jay (00:47:05):
And it's kind of something that I never considered too much before. Obviously, if something was very drastically different, you could pick it up, but to kind of take that extra little bit of time and pour, maybe have a nose and go back, let it sit for 20, 30 minutes and then go back and start tasting it. It's been a lot of fun to see where those differences began to happen with certain whiskys and some do some, some don't maybe as, but that's been my my latest in keeping myself on that, that, that geek level.

Drew (00:47:38):
Yeah. So again, this one ends up being very subtle because I, I pick up, I get what you're saying about the vanilla, that it's, it, it doesn't hit you like vanilla flavoring. It, it definitely has a much more kind of a floral kind of experience to it. And so it's lighter. It you, you kind of have to look for it. Yes. And then the mouth feels really nice. I mean, it's and this he's proofing this down I'm assuming to get it to 46, correct. It's double distilled.

Jay (00:48:13):
Yes. Everything, everything within the whole internally of our whiskys is double pot stilled. The only whisky that is not is our expression called the single or seven-year-old that has done coffee still, still on malted barley. But it has shown well for that particular, how, how we mature that whisky, which is a bourbon mature Mizunara finish that has shown to be the sweet spot and the right, you know, the right combination to get the flavors that we're looking for. Yeah.

Drew (00:48:41):
There's almost like a little, like a little egg custard in there. And as I let it roll down the sides of my tongue, that is where I'm really getting it when I'm first tasting it. And the first time I sip this one, actually I wasn't getting the black tea, but the second sip of it now that black tea is starting to show up on, but it's, again, it's subtle. It's not as expressive probably as it is here. It really lingers on that one. And that's the fun of a single cask. You, I mean, it is going to be a different experience. I mean, I've tasted this. Nobody can probably go out and buy this exact cask. Maybe there's a bottle out there somewhere, but

Jay (00:49:28):
If you happen to be up in Massachusetts there might be a bottle or two left, but but yeah, that's those particular ones and the program was all around the country. So there are certainly other single barrels of Kyle out there be after that, as far as that exact one was. And I can even tell you that personally 1402 just happened to be a very special cast for Jeff. And when these are being released he wanted to make sure that some bottles of that particular Casper were set aside. So, so he, he took, he took a very big liking and personally favored 1402.

Drew (00:50:08):
I actually had a trip planned to go out to Japan last summer, which of course didn't, didn't quite work out, but I feel like once I'm there and I'm going to the different distilleries and I'm being exposed to all of these different tastes that Japanese whisky will more, you know, click in in my head. But there's too many people. I think that think, well, you know, all Japanese whisky is the same. All scotch whisky is the same. All bourbon is the same, depending on where you're coming from. And it's fun to see that you guys are taking a different approach to it, and that you are creating a flavor profile here, which fits in with Japan. It's I guess you could say everybody's using terroir as a as a term these days. It has elements of that, that that's going to give you the character of Japan. You know, but you're doing it in your own way. You're creating something very interesting to, to expand people's appreciation of whisky.

Jay (00:51:19):
Definitely. And I think in a very interesting way to, to circle back and bring it all together, that is very much a just overall Japanese philosophy. It's, it's a, it's an, it's an idea and a mindset for them and what they've done so well with so many things, whether it be beverage or food, you know, pick the industry you want, but they are going to find the best qualities about something and then do their best to put their there. There's I'm not gonna say spin on that, but they're going to refine it and they're going to just take the best parts and put it back together again. And then that by itself ends up becoming Japanese. So it's a, it it's a very wild world, especially like I said, coming back to, you know, no one would maybe think right off the bat that you have an American at the helm of the, of these whiskys, but he very much embodies everything that Japan has. And like I say, he just wanted to make the best whisky that he could. And this is the result of that. It ended up taking this route, you know, working with whisky out of out of Japan and Japanese wood. And then here we are, that's kind Kyle,

Drew (00:52:38):
Talk about where you guys are available and what your, what your product line is at this point. We know the we'll call it the matte black label because it's Not the black label. It's the matte black label. You know, where this is available through the U S and what other products you actually have out right now,

Jay (00:53:03):
It's very wildly available, which all across the country internationally to have to spend an I've been communications, even though I work here in the U S I still get to see the talkings of where the whisky is being sent and opened up all over the rest of the world, which is, which is a lot of fun to see, again, a growing butts that's that, that black label, the signature, or the 43 as, as we tend to call it that is the most widely available. That's the one that people tend to see the most easiest the cast strings offering, which is just the bigger brother it's matured the exact same way exact same timeframe as the signature just kept that at cast drank. So still around that eight, nine year mark, as far as, you know the whisky is gone,

Drew (00:53:50):
That's a married, that's not a single cat

Jay (00:53:53):
That they have, correct. That would be a marriage of casks going into that. And that's got a cream color label to it with with a bit of a reddish font. And then we have the single, which is a seven year old whisky. That is the whisky that is produced in the column still. So it's still all barley, but in a column still matured in first filled Kentucky bourbon, then finish in Mizunara. However, about a little over a year ago, we added one more step in the casking maturation process and what you would see right now on the shelves. And this is also very widely available, almost everywhere across the country. We added a step of using a Tennessee whisky barrel. So if you can imagine the process and the money it took to transfer these whiskys, because it was all just from this barrel to that grow, that one starts in Mizunara, I'm sorry, starts, she starts and starts in FirstBuild burden.

Jay (00:54:50):
Those two Mizunara as a finish, and then going to, first of all, Tennessee whisky, that's a lot of changing hands, but it would never have happened if we just weren't experimenting and messing around. And that's what Jeff loves to do is if there's an opportunity to make something better, just like the Japanese, he wants to see it through and see what's going to happen. And that was an experiment that was started in our office, in New Jersey, where we got our hands on a Tennessee whisky barrel. I'm not going to say who, but there's only two big players and people can kind of, you know, figure out what, you know, which of the two we're getting. But we literally took a practicum, was already bottled our single seminar as it was, and just dumped it in the barrel. And we sat on it and just kind of let it see what was going to happen and what happened was all the flavors and notes that were there.

Jay (00:55:41):
They stayed, but they just became even bigger. And that Tennessee whisky just made even more, this, this cream note in a pushed the, the vanilla and the fruit and the coconut, obviously the vanilla that you would consider at the forefront of American Oak, just, it just pushed everything that much more like a black or white pepper spice. It's a great whisky for mixing cocktails was because we bottled that a 48%. So it's this beautiful, clean, fresh, bright whisky. It's awesome for the summer months and can hold a backbone to, if you want to make a whisky sour or an old fashioned, or do a high ball, because obviously, you know, people are, have they as been to home, they're getting much more open to the idea of fixing cocktails themselves. So you don't lose the the new bounces of the whisky. So it's a, it's an amazing whisky on its own as a sipper.

Jay (00:56:34):
Great to be great to be mixed with too. So I should say and that's actually the least expensive. It's the most expensive for us to produce because it changes casks so many times, but it's the least expensive in the family. So hopefully for those out there, that where they have those gear available to them be right around the $50 range. Okay. So especially for someone with an American minded pallet, American whisky man, a palette, it's a great, a great step into seeing what the Japanese charactered whisky is like. And then I mentioned, we have our peated that was a special edition run that we've had a couple of. And then we also had our Sherry for, for the drinkers out there who love their space side, Sherry bombs, single malt scotches. That is definitely a bottle of, there's still a few out there in the wild, but that was a very, very small limited production run.

Jay (00:57:25):
We did two additions. The first edition only yielded about 500 cases. Worldwide. Second edition only yield about 400, 450 cases worldwide. And that's a whisky that's. For those that appreciate the flavor profiles of say Glen Tronick or Farkas that embody that, that big Sherry robust richness, it's all that. But with them as a Nara in the very heart of it, so it takes those, it takes those tropical notes and that sandalwood, and also that black tea character, and it puts it right in the heart knife of that whisky. So that's a very special whisky again, like I said, it was a very limited run. And, and Jeff was very, very proud of that when that whisky first came to be so much that he was considering it to be out of all the whiskys that he's ever worked with and created and had a hand in that has been his, his crowning achievement, as he thought as a BSR, is that he was able to create this so much that it's whisky, that he put extra aside so that when his his daughters are older and when they get married, that's the whisky he wants to celebrate with.

Jay (00:58:36):
So for the master distiller or not the master blender to say this is wedding day whisky, that speaks pretty volumes of what's in the book.

Drew (00:58:45):
Well, thanks for sharing some great whisky with me. And for again, the patients in, in waiting through all of this, I'm glad I got to finally enjoy these with full sentences. And, and I look forward to seeing what you guys do down the road. And if you get a distillery going, then I need to know about it. Cause when I go to Japan, that's definitely going to be one that's going to be on the list.

Jay (00:59:06):
We, we most definitely will and it's going to happen. And just unfortunately with so many things that COVID has, has adjusted that was one of those because at the end of the day, the whisky to get bottled and out the door was a top priority, but we certainly have a distillery. And when we do, there's obviously going to be a big party.

Drew (00:59:26):
Absolutely. Well, I definitely have to say cheers and thanks for thanks for sharing all your thoughts and information and the history. And I look forward to seeing what you guys do in the future.

Jay (00:59:38):
Thank you so much here. This was a pleasure. And

Drew (00:59:40):
If you want to learn more about Kaiyo, then just head to Kaiyo whisky.com at for Whiskey Lore's show notes, transcripts, hoodies, tasting notes, or links to Whiskey Lore's social media, head to whisky-lore.com. Don't forget. Season five of the Whiskey Lore podcast to start it coming up this week, we've got stories of scandals, deception, even murder. As I started an epic mini series on the whisky trust. Remember Whiskey Lore is on your favorite podcast app. I'm your host Drew Hannush have a great week. And until next time, cheers and slainte mhath. Whisky Lore is a production of travel fuels life LLC.


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