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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Nine Leaves Rums Review

Time to review a couple of interesting rums from Nine Leaves in Japan.

The Nine Leaves micro distillery was founded in Otsu Shiga in 2013 by Yoshiharu Takeuchi.

A super exciting one man passion project, Mr Takeuchi sourced his location based on the near by high quality water source. He imported a Forsythe pot still from Scotland - which he assembled himself.

“My wish was to create a finished product that embodies my thoughts and creativity, fully produced within the reach of my eyes.” - Yoshiharu Takeuchi

Produced not from molasses or fresh cane juice but using unrefined whole brown cane sugar from the Okinawan islands. Mr Takeuchi has experimented with different types of Japanese yeast for his super long 4 day fermentation

The predictably tiny output of non chill filtered end products are hand bottled, unaged or after some time in different oak barrels. His Angel's Half series is an experiment where half the rum was aged for 6 months in American oak and the other half in French oak. Today I'm tasting and reviewing the American oak version along with the unaged.

The only Japanese rum I've tried previously was the red labelled, unaged cane juice rum from Cor Cor from Okinawa. I don't have the words to describe how utterly vile this drink was - on par with Sichuanese gojijo - a baiju based home brew containing a dead snake and several dead sea horses. Needless to say I'm a little apprehensive of this tasting :-)

Tasted out in the May sunshine, I'm assisted today by the splendid sounds of Gare Du Nord.

Nine Leaves Clear - 50%

Nose: A warm earthy smell that I would guess was cane juice. Pungent, although not super aggressive for 50%. Quite saline. Lots of floor wax and rubber to start, eventually giving way to green olives and some spiciness. Even a touch of light fruit, maybe watermelon. Enjoyable, clean, well made, although nothing mind-blowing.

Mouth: Quite light at first. A touch of sprite. Some crisp green apples. An enjoyable mid-length zesty finish. A soupcon of bitter coffee grounds and under-ripe fruit on the second taste. Some floral notes. A decent rum. Not super complex, and not as funky as I'd hoped from the long fermentation, but what's there is tasty. Happily nothing at all like the dastedly Cor Cor :-). This is a rum I'd happily sip or use in any cocktails (although there's a risk that the flavour notes could easily get overpowered). [81pts]

Nine Leaves Angel's Half, American Oak - 50%

Nose: A little sharp at first. The salty waxy profile of the unaged is here too but with some buttery biscuit notes too. Maybe a fig tart. Smothered in floor wax. And a hint of anise. The barrel influence has definitely added rather than taken away. Very inviting.

Mouth: An decent waxy mouth feel. The pastry from the nose is all there but with a touch of fuel oil and lots of that floor wax. I'm guessing there's a taste of elastic bands - although I can't confirm for obvious reasons :-) Slight coffee taste and a touch of vanilla & ground pepper. Not a massively deep or rich rum (which makes sense after only 6 months) but one I'm enjoying. [81+pts]

Both rums are absolutely worth seeking out. A unique and interesting distillery that's worth keeping an eye on.

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