Fukano rice whisky is essentially rice shochu that’s been aged in oak casks, which might sound weird, but really the process for making shochu is similar to making any other distilled beverage. You start by getting some kind of fermentable organic ingredient (in this case rice since whisky requires a 100% grain mashbill), mashing it, fermenting it and then distilling that fermented liquid. Whether it’s bourbon, Irish whiskey or Scotch the basic process is the same, but with one major differentiator… copper.
Because rice is a clean, sulfurless, distillate it doesn’t require copper stills to produce a drinkable beverage and is instead distilled in stainless steel still and distilled at a relatively low proof. After distillation the shochu, which would be called new make outside of Japan, is then transferred to new charred oak barrels and laid to rest in a warehouse that more closely resembles a Scottish dunnage than a Kentucky Rickhouse.
After an unspecified amount of time, a.k.a. “when it was ready”, two of the barrels were bottled at full cask strength and shipped to Los Angeles where the importer invited me over to try them and give my opinion. I enjoyed them, ask if I could write about them and now that the background is covered, it’s on to the Fukano Rice Whisky review so we can see how it tastes!
Fukano Rice Whisky Info
Region: Kyushu / Okinawa, Japan
Mashbill: 100% Rice
Cask: New Oak
Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color
Bottle: K&L Single Cask
Fukano Rice Whisky Review
Tropical fruit, toffee, vanilla, toasted grain, spice and light coconut and dried fruit. A nice balanced aroma of sweet and darker notes. If you’re a bourbon fan I think you’re really going to like this particular barrel.
Caramel, vanilla, orchard fruit, tropical fruit, cinnamon and a touch of wood and toasted grain. The flavor is even better than the aroma and I ended up pouring myself a little bit more of this one right after tasting it and kept visiting it over the course of the evening.
Long fade of banana, caramel, coconut, wood and some earthy notes.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Good balance, medium body and a silken feel.
I fully enjoyed this Fukano Rice Whisky the day I got to try both of them with the importer. I also enjoyed it the next day when I was home sipping some samples and writing up this review. The most obvious thing about this whisky is that isn’t like anything else out there.
Due to the 100% rice mashbill, stainless steel still distillation and new oakFukano Rice Whisky is a unique whisky that harbors similarities to bourbon, single malt and single grain whiskies. On an interesting side note, while it does have a low proof I recommend letting it sit and open up a bit. Oxygen helps it become a more buttery round whisky.
Only two casks of this whisky have made their way into the USA so far, so I feel pretty lucky to have been invited to try both casks and give my early feedback on them. Distribution might be limited at the moment, but I hope they catch on and start finding their way out into the wider public. Fukano Rice Whisky is interesting, different, well executed and is a brand I’m excited to watch evolve and grow over the coming years. It’s not your everyday whisky and that’s a good thing!
*Disclosure: I know the Importer and was invited to a sneak-preview to try the Fukano Whisky and give my feedback. I liked them, asked if I could write about them and was given a sample for note taking at home. The views, opinions and tasting notes are 100% my own and the importer is seeing these scores and notes for the first time in this review.
Fukano Rice Whisky Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose - 87
- Palate - 88
- Finish - 87
- Balance, Body & Feel - 86
Fukano Rice Whisky is an alternative grain whisky that I think bourbon drinkers would especially be drawn to. It’s not your everyday whisky and that’s a good thing!