Kamiki (48.0%): Kamiki is a blended whisky launched in Japanese market pretty recently and it is planned to hit the shelves in US after New Years. The brand is owned by one of the major Japanese spirit exporters Yoshino Spirits and they chose the name Kamiki meaning "The breath of God" for their whisky. After the blending process the whisky is finished for a period of time in Japanese cedar casks. It is non-chill filtered and bottled at 48% abv.

Color: Light amber, orange blossom honey color with very persistent legs around the glass.

Nose: They were not kidding about cedar finishing: Pine sap, rosemary, sage and pine cones. Empty cigar box, fresh cardamom pods, over brewed black tea and cinnamon applesauce. Cracked black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, dried lavender buds and whole cloves. More and more cardamom... Sappy, herbal and spicy. It doesn't nose like a whisky by any stretch. It feels more like an aquavit or cordial... 

Palate: Surprisingly hot at this abv... Must be the young whiskies in the blend. The palate matches the nose: Red pepper flakes, pine needles, juniper berries and black tea. Quite bitter with mainly cedar wood driven notes: Tree bark, cinnamon sticks and Szechuan pepper. Ground cardamom and cloves.

Finish: Long, mainly because of the sizzling red pepper notes. Otherwise everything else fades out pretty quick.

Overall: It really doesn't nose and taste like whisky to me... The influence of cedar wood is so strong and harsh, it basically covers everything else. For my two cents it could be any kind of alcohol in the bottle infused with spices, cedar wood and herbs and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. If it was a blind tasting I probably would guess it as a Fireball-like red pepper/cardamom flavored distilled spirit, definitely not as a whisky.

If you find yourself in a confusing situation like this your first instinct would be to go online and visit the brand's website to learn more about the product, wouldn't be? In this case visiting the website puzzles you even more though... All the info you can get on their website is that it is a blend containing Japanese malt whiskies as well as malt whiskies from the "rest of the world" and is finished in Japanese cedar casks. Wait what?! Hold your horses here... Malt whiskies from the "rest of the world"..? I thought I was tasting a Japanese whisky here considering all the packaging, design, etc... Where are these malt whiskies coming from..? If they are sourced from different countries why is the whole concept designed to make us think that we are drinking a true Japanese whisky? And why do the Facebook and Instagram accounts of the brand name the product as "Japanese Whisky"? I know that the Japanese law allows it but at this point wouldn't be a better idea to be more transparent and open especially when you are about to launch a new whisky brand in this highly competitive international market..?

Anyway, that being said I can see now why nobody else uses cedar casks to mature their spirits, it obviously doesn't work very well. The result is extremely bitter, herbal and spicy at an unpleasant level. Not my cup of tea... Many thanks to Whisky Monster for sending me this sample all the way from San Fransisco.

Price: $60


*photo taken from Kamiki website