Nine Leaves Angel’s Half French Cask Review: The Ultimate Umami Rum

Discovering drinks from different parts of the world has helped to broaden my horizons and give insight into new cultures, particularly when it comes to Japanese drinks like sake and shochu.

This appreciation for Japan’s indigenous tipple has made me curious about the Land of the Rising’s Sun’s treatment of Western spirits and there’s been plenty of praise given to Japanese whisky. A category that’s gaining in momentum is Japanese rum and I was excited to get my hands on a sample from Nine Leaves, arguably the most well-known Japanese rum brand.

The Nine Leaves Angel’s Half French Oak Cask is a force to be reckoned with. Here’s why.

Brand Story 

The Nine Leaves Distillery is the brainchild of Yoshiharu Takeuchi, a man who set out to put his own stamp on rum in 2013. Takeuchi-san was originally drawn to distilling whisky but opted for rum because he found there was a great opportunity to be creative.

On seeking advice from the owner of Chichibu Whisky, Ichiro Akuto, Takeuchi purchased a copper stills from Forsythe’s and started to source his ingredients. Takeuchi located his water source in Shiga and got his sugarcane from Okinawa. 

When designing the logo for his brand, Takeuchi tapped into his heritage. His family kamon (crest) features nine bamboo leaves, a symbol of the Takeuchi’s family’s involvement in the wood industry. 

Today, the distillery can be found on Honshu island in Shiga Prefecture, pumping out some of the most unique rum to be found anywhere in the world. 

Tasting Notes

The first aroma that comes from this rum is a musky, woody scent that transforms into subtler notes of butterscotch and toffee. It had me thinking that the rum would have a balanced mix of sweet and savoury. That theory went out of the window as soon as I took the first sip. 

A dry, toasty flavour came through and expanded into notes of wax, wood and rye bread. A velvety, treacly undertone zipped in out of nowhere, clinging to the roof of my mouth like a spider monkey made out of every savoury flavour that comes to mind: coffee, petrol, more wood, biscuit, peanut butter and mushrooms. Umami for days.

All of this gave way to a spicy aftertaste that lingered long after the rum was gone. It was bold, meaty and awesome, much like a sesame seed shochu.

The Nine Leaves Angel’s Share French Cask is a multi-faceted rum that has a lot going on and is worth trying to see the dizzying array of flavours that Japanese craftmanship can tease out.

Nine Leaves Angel's Half French Cask rum has a dry, woody profile with notes of peanut butter, coffee and toast.

ABV: 48%

Origin: Japan

Variety: Molasses 

Style: Gold 

Nose: Toast, wax, rye bread 

Mouthfeel: Wood, mushrooms, peanut butter, coffee, biscuit 

Have a taste for Japanese rum? Be sure to check out these four recommendations from The Rum Ration.

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