Blended Malt Japanese whisky. Read the label, that’s what it says. But that’s not what it is. The Mars Maltage “Cosmo” (why the quotation marks?) is actually a blended malt comprised of both Japanese and Scottish malt whisky. What’s the ratio? I’ve no idea.
The Japanese whisky used for this blend was produced by Mars Shinshu, a distillery that has been active since 1985 (my birth year!) and is located in Miyata. This small village lies at an altitude of almost 800 meters in the Japanese alps. During winter time, temperatures drop to -15 degrees Celsius.
And what about the Scottish whisky used for this blend? Who knows… That information is not disclosed by Hombo Mars, the owners of the distillery.
I’ve no problem at all with blending Scottish and Japanese whisky. However, it is extremely weird to then call it a Japanese whisky. What’s up with that? The lack of regulations for Japanese whisky have long been a hot topic, but so far I don’t believe there’s any movement towards industry wide rules.
Apparently, not everybody in Japan even supports the idea of a geographical indication for Japanese whisky. Sakuma Tadashi, Nikka’s chief blender, actually says this: “Flexibility to use ingredients without any restrictions will be key to create unique expressions from the perspective of the blender.”
I mean, I guess that’s true, even though I don’t think that’s a reason not to enforce some stricter regulations. I can’t see why the Japanese whisky industry wouldn’t make this a priority. But whatever, there’s whisky to be reviewed. So let’s get on with it.
Mars Maltage “Cosmo” (43%, OB)
Nose: Slightly metallic to start, but then softer notes of vanilla and sweet pastry, but also cigar tobacco and char. Hints of tropical fruits like pineapple. Fairly straight-forward. Taste: Somewhat creamy, with sweet malt and caramel, and some spices like cinnamon and pepper. What really stands out is the tobacco. Finish: Hints of fennel, but mainly sweetness and finally a whisper of smoke.
A good whisky, with a nice balance. An easy sipper too. What it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in balance and richness.