Mars Iwai Tradition Blended Whisky 720ml 40% is a Japanese blended Whiskey. The blend comes from both malt and grain, and it is distilled at Japan’s highest distillery, located in a mountain range of Nagano, at 798 meters.The Mars distillery was originally founded in Kagoshima before it moved to Nagano.

This blend is named after Kiichiro Iwai. He is a mentor of Masataka Taketsuru. As a 14 year senior graduated from the same technical school, Iwai brought Taketsuru into the same brewery, then became his mentor in the company. Along with others in management, Iwai sent Taketsuru to Scotland to learn the art of whisky-making. As the first Japanese to learn the art, Taketsuru returned to Japan and presented a whisky-making report- the Taketsuru Notes- to Iwai. Taketsuru later went on to found Nikka Whisky, and then created Suntory Whisky. Years after that Iwai founded Mars Shinshu distillery with Taketsuru’s notes. As the mentor of The Father of Japanese Whisky, Iwai is referred to by some as The Silent Pioneer of Japanese Whisky.

Colour: Dark caramel

Nose: Very strong scent of grape. Very similar to Brandy or Tawny port.

Taste: Very high in viscosity. You can tell its richness that comes from its oily characteristic when you chew it in your mouth. It is very sweet indeed. Again, initially one can find strong similarities in it with grape-based spirits. However, things can become quite different upon second tasting.

Finish: Upon finish, the aroma that comes back to the nostrils resoundingly similar to Bourbon whiskey. Then on that second tasting, the taste of Bourbon overtakes the initial fruity characteristic of Iwai.

Verdict: The blend is very easy to go down. It is very fruity, and has many layers to its taste. While it is very pleasant I am just not sure if I can say I enjoy a whisky that turns into grape-based spirit like Brandy or Port when it enters my mouth. It is just too unwhisky for me.