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Mars Maltage 'Cosmo' whisky (43% ABV)

Star rating: 4/5

Read our round-up of the best Japanese whisky

The story of Japanese whisky might be dominated by the brands Suntory and Nikka, but there are other distilleries dotted about the islands, and Mars Shinshu has one of the most interesting stories.

The company began a century ago, after the owner sent chemist Masataka Taketsuru to Scotland to research whisky. However, they didn’t think Japan ready for real whisky, so they waited until 1960 before building a distillery, for it to only last nine years. The Mars distillery opened in 1985, just in time for the domestic consumption to crash, closing in 1992.

But over the last decade, they’ve started to get it moving again, and there’s some extremely interesting special editions like the Mars Komagatake Shinanotanpopo.

While the company is building up a stock level of aged spirit, the Cosmo is emblematic – a blended malt using a percentage of their own whisky alongside imported scotch. Presenting a rich deep gold in the glass, it has a rich nose, with deep toffee and butterscotch. After that, stewed prunes and pears, ginger and cinnamon spice and a little metallic copper note.

On the palate, it has a full mouthfeel, with sweetness balanced by spice, fresh white pepper and grassy notes, butterscotch and smoky uplift at the end.

The finish is intense but not overlong, as the smoke lightens and stays in the background, with more stewed fruit and toffee, and again, a touch of copper bitterness.

The perfect pour

Very reminiscent of a scotch, with a few hints of the new, younger spirit in there, this is an ideal sipper on a cold day. Should you want to utilise this in a cocktail, try a Penicillin.

Muddle 10ml runny honey with 15ml lemon juice. Add 25ml Cosmo, 15ml smoky Islay whisky, such as Bunnahabhain, and 15ml ginger liqueur, such as King’s Ginger. Shake over ice and strain into an old fashioned glass with large chunks of fresh ice.

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This review was last updated in April 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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