Tag Archives: mars

Mars Iwai Tradition Japanese Whisky Review

Mars Iwai Tradition Japanese Whisky – Distiller: Mars. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Blend: 75% malt whisky, 25% corn. Price: $50-60.

The Mars Iwai Tradition is the second offering on the U.S. market from the highly respected Mars distillery in Japan. The first, simply called Mars Iwai Whisky, is a $35 blend, by far the lowest-cost Japanese whisky on the U.S. market by quite a bit. It’s a blend of 75% corn whisk(e)y and 25% malt, and has surprising substance and flavor at 40% ABV. It’s closer to a mixer than a sipper, but what it lacks in delicacy, it makes up for in value.

The Iwai Tradition is a step up in every way: depth, clarity, flavor, and maturity. Price too, but it’s still quite reasonable at about $50-55. It flips the proportions of its predecessor, being a blend of 75% malt whisky and 25% corn.

It has a beautiful coppery color in the glass. The nose is meaty, with sweet barbecue and cinnamon. Deep syrupy bourbon notes without a bourbon’s heat. Some dark sherry fruits: prunes and raisins. Buttery malt biscuits and a little milk chocolate. A comforting nose, somehow.

The palate is a slight letdown after so promising a nose, but still has plenty to recommend it. Some Amrut-y tropical fruits, particularly ripe banana. Whoppers malt candy. The finish adds tannic sautéed mushroom flavors–maybe with a touch of char.

In sum, the Iwa Tradition is not quite my go-to recommendation for those new to Japanese whisky–that’d be the Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt–but the Tradition is head and shoulders above its predecessor from Mars, and is well worth the extra $15-20. Close to a daily drinker.

Kanpai, friends! – BO

Buy Mars Iwai Japanese Whisky online at Mash + Grape

Mars Iwai Whisky Review

Mars Iwai Whisky – Distiller: Mars. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Blend: 75% corn whisk(e)y, 25% malt whisk(e)y. Price: $35-40.

Mars Whisky is a Japanese distiller little known in the U.S., but renowned for some very high-quality whiskies in Japan. The Iwai Whisky is a curiosity for several reasons. It’s “bourbon inspired,” as Mars says, made from a grain bill of three-quarters corn and a quarter malted barley, and it costs less not only than every other Japanese whisky on the U.S. market, but less than many quality bourbons: $35-40.

It’s only 40% ABV, but the high corn recipe and the fat pot still it’s made in give it substance and creaminess. The nose is a bit shy: some vanilla toasted oak notes, a touch of melon. Palate: vanilla pound cake and lychee. Short, understated finish.

It won’t change your life, but it’s a simple, pleasant whisky that mixes well at a price far below anything else from Japan. For a step up, try the Mars Iwai Tradition–significantly more satisfying for about $15 more.

Hopefully these two are harbingers of other well regarded Mars releases reaching the U.S. soon, especially the single malts that made the distillery’s reputation at home.

Kanpai, friends! -BO

Buy Mars Iwai Whisky online at Mash + Grape