New whisky releases from Lark Distillery seem to be by-the-month in 2021. The famed Tasmanian whisky distillery has never been so active, but their latest expression still comes as a genuine surprise. Led by Head Distiller Chris Thompson, the Lark Distillery Rare Cask Mizunara, a new addition to the Rare Cask Series, is a single malt inspired by the new-world dominance of Japanese Whisky.
Aligning with the rest of Lark’s Rare Cask series, the Rare Cask Mizunara turns its attention towards the Japanese origin of Mizunara casks, which are built from one of the rarest oaks in the world. Given it can take up to 200 years for this rare tree to mature to the point where its perfect for ageing whisky, Lark coming by an opportunity like this isn’t something that should be overlooked by Australian whisky drinkers.
Although it could go either way. Mizunara Oak has been used to produce some of the most legendary Japanese single malt whiskies of all time, with Suntory known to be a particular fan of this rare type of cask. And despite it being used extensively following World War II, due to American and European oak was almost impossible to import, it’s common knowledge that the wood needs more than just a few years to work its magic and add characteristic notes of sandalwood, coconut, and a type of oriental incense called kara.
The oak is also known to be harder to work with for whisky distillers, given Japanese oak has a much higher moisture content than other types of oak, doesn’t grow straight, and is more porous than American oak – meaning the casks are prone to leakage.
According to an official press release, Lark has only scratched the surface of the wonders Mizunara Oak can bring to a single malt. To create the Mizunara Oak Cask release, Thompson selected second-fill bourbon casks and used Mizunara as a finishing cask for just 3 months. This should present a unique hybrid between distinctly Japanese and distinctively Tasmanian flavours, instead of just tasting like a Japanese whisky.
Given it’s Lark, there’s little doubt this one is worth the high price tag. Just reading through the tasting notes is exciting enough, describing notes of bright toasted oak, cherry, apple pie, coconut, lychee, guava, pear, and fresh apples.
Lark Distillery Rare Cask Mizunara will be limited to 845 bottles, each 700ml and each coming with a complimentary 100ml bottle so collector’s can taste the whisky without opening the actual bottle. Every purchase will also come with a commemorative copper medallion to be worn around the neck, handcrafted from a decommissioned Lark copper pot.
Lark Distillery Rare Cask Mizunara is bottled at 49.5% ABV and is available now for $1,000 per 700ml bottle.