Shizuoka Trio of New Makes: Karuizawa Still, Wood-Fired Still, Bourbon Cask, 63.3% abv

Shizuoka Distillery is one of the most hotly anticipated in the wave of Japanese craft distilleries starting to hatch out of their shells, ready to hit the market. The allure towards Shizuoka Distillery could not be clearer – founded under Gaia Flow, an existing distributor of popular independently bottled whiskies under the Blackadder and Asta Morris brands, the company already had a strong presence in Japan.

Nakamura has taken every step to build Shizuoka into a fan favorite. (Image Source: Shizuoka Distillery)

The distillery's founder, Nakamura, is himself a real whisky history buff, having purchased and refurbished stills from the now defunct legendary distillery Karuizawa, and has also gone a long way to incorporate lots of local ingredients – you could say Shizuoka is hitting all the right notes.

The distillery actually has a really cool story, which you can check out here.

Now with two debut releases under their belt, the Prologue K and Prologue W, as well as the first drops of whiskies from their private cask program, the market is just waiting for a mass market release to go all in on.

Today, we were fortunate to get out hands on Shizuoka’s new makes from Interco-mle, a Singaporean distributor of Blackadder.

We have with us a new make from the Karuizawa Still (which probably became Prologue K), the Wood-Fired Still (which likely became Prologue W), and finally a 16 month new make that was matured in a bourbon barrel. These were all bottled at 63.3% abv and were made of unpeated malt.

Shizuoka New Make: Karuizawa Still, 63.6%

Colour. Clear, basically the color of water. Keep in mind, whiskies take most of their color from the oak cask maturation process. They are usually colourless upon distillation.

Now, we’re gonna wanna be careful with this as new makes run at a very high ABV. Here it’s a potent 63.6%.

Carefully nosing it, allowing the initial alcohol sting to fade off (or maybe my nose is becoming immune), it’s clean and fairly soft and mellow. It has a very apparent vanillic note that is also very sweet.

There’s also something very familiar here… I sat on this for awhile, and then it struck me, it smells like boiled pandan. Pandan is a fragrant tropical plant beloved for its sweet aroma, and is widely used in Southeast Asia, whether it’s in the form of a paste, extract or a powder, it is used to flavor everything from appetizers to mains and of course desserts.

While this might simply look like grass, it was once touted by the British as the Southeast's answer to vanilla for it's wonderful soft yet fragrant aroma. (Image Source: Healthline)

I really like this pandan base note because it smells so soft, yet fragrant and its aroma is very distinctively tropical. There’s also some desiccated coconut flakes here as well to go along with that.

On the palate, again very sweet and vanillic, with a growing warmth but surprisingly less burn than one would expect. It’s very clean with a good sprinkle of white pepper. That said, it does grow in intensity, so you’re going to wanna go slow.

A sight familiar to any frequenter of cafes. (Image Source: The Good Trade)

The finish is long and warming. The pandan makes a reappearance and then closes out with some bitterness and also something comparable to charcoal water.

Our Rating

🌿 🌿

I give this two pandan leaves.

Shizuoka New Make: Wood-Fired Still, 63.6%

Color here is also water-colored, ie. colourless.

Nose here is softer and rounder than the K new make. The same sweet vanilla but this time with a dash of braised preserved salted vegetable, something you’d typically be served as a side dish for braised meats in Southeast Asia.

The scent of a slightly sour but vegetal aroma that comes from fermentation. (Image Source: China Sichuan Food)

The palate is rounder and less bitter than the K new make, but with noticeably more smoke, though still very light. A firmer body than K as well.

Still very sweet with a good amount of vanilla, vanilla pods even. On the whole this is more balanced and well-rounded than K.

Hmm, perhaps we could have a more popular Prologue W than Prologue K it seems.

Quite an evolution from braised preserved vegetables to vanilla pods. (Image Source: Mashed)

The finish is very long, but this time much more gentle. The bitterness is still apparent but very soft and again a good pouring of vanilla. On the whole very sweet and clean and crisp.

Our Rating


This one piqued my interest, it gets a intrigued smiley.

Shizuoka New Make: 16 Month Bourbon Barrel. 63.6%

Colour is still fairly light, close to that of honey water. There is actually colour on this one since it’s matured for 16 months in a bourbon barrel, so some of the oak has infused into the distillate.