Sunday, December 15, 2013

Day 11: Evening

Not much to see here. Sadly Osaka was the photo-death of me.

Caught the sunset on the way to meet the family

Korean version of a pop-up restaurant

Korean version of the food truck

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 11: Off to the motherland

Time to leave Japan and head for Seoul


Up in the air

Attention cabin crew, prepare for arrival. My first sight of land, I felt the unexpected feeling of being home

View from my seat

View from my hotel

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 10: Losing inspiration in Kobe

I had average Kobe beef in Kobe, views from a mountain, missed views from the base of another. Most importantly, I've slowly lost the will to take pictures. Sadness. Here's what I mustered.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 9: Osaka Castle

Not much to say except I visited this beautiful castle



Doing it right


bye bye

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 9: Yamazaki

Yamazaki is a small town just outside of Osaka that was the birthplace of Japanese whisky. The distillery was founded in 1923 and named after the town that still is prized for its pure spring waters and diverse climate. If you've never tried Yamazaki and you enjoy whisky you have to give it a try. There's not a lot better than the 18yr old in it's price range. When I first discovered this whisky several years ago it was $90. It now sells for over $150. And it's still worth it.

Thank you for your hard work sir

One of the giant copper stills. Unlike a lot of distilleries, Yamazaki uses different shaped stills in the various steps of the distillation process to yield a greater variety of characteristics in their alcohol.

The warehouse smelled strongly of oak and alcohol

I wish I had this collection (minus the bookends)

There are over a thousand bottles of various maturations of whisky on display here

You can also sample various whiskies at a very reasonable price


Yamazaki 25
Smoke, molasses, floral nose. Almost a coffee, or roasted barley aftertaste that is long and lingering. I think I may prefer the 18yr. Especially since this bottle costs around $1300

Hibiki 21
Toffee, caramel, melted butter, alcohol. Definitely needs time to open up. Syrupy and silky. Delicious. Better than the 17yr and the 12, but barely. At around $250 a bottle maybe I'll grab one someday

These two whiskies were part of the 5 I believe that are used to blend into the Hibiki 17yr. This is the only place you can sample all the blends of the Hibiki line. On the side is "Mother water" which is the water they use to make the whisky. I'm not going to lie, it was actually really tasty as well. They should bottle this and sell it too.

Mizunara (Japanese Oak only found in Hokkaido 52% alc)
Needs water, sweet toffee, amazingly floral. Haunting, and unique aftertaste, almost like roasted corn, the smell of young wood burning. I wish I could buy this in a bottle

White Oak (54% alc)
Dried fruits, grape, lots of alcohol. Grain/wheat finish with some bite. After adding water, I could taste some vanilla and oak as well.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 8: Osaka evening stroll

All adventures begin from our hotel subway stop. A little out of the way of all the action, but at least convenient to get to.

"The train is talking to me, I gotta go"

Anybody that has been to Japan knows this sign as a sign of awesomeness

They seem close

River at night

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 8: Osaka Aqarium

It's Day 8, and it's a humid hot mess. Time to spend time at the aquarium.

Underground passes to escape the heat and the traffic

Somebody thought long and hard where to put that ad. Well played

Fish in a small tank

Sharks in the big tank

This guy is like the battle cruiser, with the other fish being fighter planes. This is how I saw it anyways. Fish wars


Who doesn't like penguins?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 7: Osaka pt 4

Night cap? If I must

Start if off right with the Yoichi 20yr. Here are some comments from the internet:

Nose: big notes of cedar wood up front. Cigar boxes. Tobacco leaves. Old leather. Nice to see there’s also an estery note (nail polish) but this fades away quickly. Dark forest fruits remain. After that, some earthy smoke, burnt cake and a little tar. Hints of dried mushrooms and soft spices. Incense as well. Light matchstick notes from the sherry. Excellent complexity and typically Japanese.

Mouth: punchy (bordering on pungent). Again quite savoury and leathery. Walnuts and roasted pecans. Deep, earthy peat smoke. Pepper, liquorice, anise, a pinch of salt. In the background a strong bitter-sweet harmony of burnt fruit cake and dark chocolate. Slightly sourish tobacco leaves.

Finish: very long, smoky and chocolaty with traces of dry oak.

Here are my notes:

Tasty. Pricey.

I tried the Miyagikyo and that was fantastic as well. I wish I had written down my thoughts about it. Oh well, next time.

In case it's not obvious, I am at the Ritz-Carlton bar in Osaka. It's a spectacular bar. Not because of it's location or selection, but because of the people that work there. Everything is done perfectly. And ok, they have an outstanding collection of exclusive and rare alcohol.

White Bowmore, is one of the three unicorn scotches that I would like to someday try. Black, and Gold being the other two. They sell this here for just slightly over $500 a dram, or the bottle can be yours for north of $16,000. Needless to say, I didn't try it. The bartender did, and he said it was amazing.

I asked him what was his other favourite whisky that regular people could afford and he produced this. I've never been a fan of the Hakashu 12 when the Yamazaki 12 and Hibiki 12 are so much better, but I gave it a shot anyways. I wasn't disappointed. Sharp fruit and alcohol on the nose, with a little bit of smoke. The taste starts off silky and then you really taste the oak. What keeps bringing me back to this is the taste of the wood. It's so unique that similar to a really peaty Islay, I can't get enough of it.

This is how they do a serious mojito

Another exclusive bottling for the Ritz. It was a pretty typical Clynelish: smooth, light, some dry fruit and then leathery and oak. Still delicious.

Farewell....I'll be back

(I did go back)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 7: Osaka pt. 3

There's only one good reason to walk around all day, and that is to work up an appetite to eat. Osaka is also known for it's kushiage, which is basically things they deep fry in batter and serve. This is pretty far away from how they do it in America though (think state fairs). At it's best, there is a lightness and subtlety to each dish that makes each bite a memorable experience. Tomo did some research and chose the restaurant, so it was great. I present to you Cuisine d'Osaka Ryo

On the way there

Appetizers. I forgot what everything was, but it was delicious.


Some notable mentions was the rice puffs, the soup, the eggs on eggs, and I think there was foie somewhere in the mix too