My year end trip in 2015 to Japan with Y and R started off with a quick one night stop in Fukuoka. Having been here in 2014, our day quickly whisked by with walking around in the Daimyo area and eating our favourite Shin Shin Ramen among many other things. I always love checking out Japan bars, so we found Bar Higuchi Fukuoka online highly recommended as a whisky and cocktail bar.
Located in the Nakasu area which is the busiest street in Fukuoka city, many restaurants and bars are located in this area making it easy for us to go restaurant and bar hopping in one night. Of course we were too tired from our red eye flight, but still mustered enough energy to check out Bar Higuchi – located in a simple white building.
White building amongst the many in Nakasu area.
Entrance of Bar Higuchi on the ground floor.
Busy nightlife in the Nakasu area.
Bar Higuchi sits probably about 12 – 16 people at max, mainly counter bar seats, and with such bars, the best spot is always right in front of the bartenders. What we noticed as we went in was the huge collection of Macallan Whisky of various Vintages in the shelves, plus some cool memorabilia like an autographed cask cover to Bar Higuchi by Hakashu Distillery. The next thing we noticed were tons of large glass jars lined up along the bar walls, each chock full of ginger, soaked in vodka. From afar, it looked reminiscent of those odd wine soaked antlers and animal testicles in a Chinese Medical shop, but thank goodness it was just good ol’ ginger. We learnt later from the owner that this was their specialty and used for their house classic – Moscow Mule cocktail.
Homemade vodka soaked ginger for Moscow Mule.
Rare signed Owner’s Cask from Hakashu.
Amazing selection of Macallan whisky some as old as 50 years I think.
After deliberating for a while what to order, R decided to start the night with the house Moscow Mule – served in the classic copper mug with the house ginger, while Y and I decided to share a “chick” drink, which was a nice fruity blended Musk Melon cocktail. It came served in tall glass with a cute “Santa” straw in it. To be honest, R and us were comparing notes of our drinks, and both felt there was hardly any liquor inside even though they tasted yummy. I think that’s the general nature of Japanese cocktails from my experience in Tokyo earlier in the year at some of the other cocktail bars.
Bar Higuchi’s house Moscow Mule cocktail.
Santa decorated Musk Melon cocktail.
Peering at some of the Scottish whiskies before us.
Not to sound like an alcoholic, we decided we should taste some whisky after our first round of cocktails. This is when we went through quite an educational round of whisky ‘tour’ with the owner Higuchi Kazuyuki. We also understood from Higuchi, that he participates in many Japan whisky events and I could really sense a sense his passion for whiskys. We told him since we were in Japan, we prefer to just stick with the rare Japanese whiskies that he may have, and he brought out close to 10 bottles, it was hard to decide which one to try, but in the end, I settled on a Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt-Salon de Shimaji for Pen x Shinanoya, 26 years, with a Madeira finish. I do like my sherry casks in general, but this was a bit too strong for me, likely to be accented by the licorice taste, even my big eyes were smarting as I drank this. It took me a while to savour this, although the taste did grow on me towards the end. Glad I tried it, although it’s not such an “easy whisky” to drink like the Yamazakis or Hakashus.
Deciding which whisky to try. Tough decision!
Owner – Higuchi Kazuyuki, whipping out our drink.
Suntory Single Cask 1989
Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt – Salon de Shimaji, 26 years
Oh and did I mention, he has a huge collection of Ichiro’s Malt card series – nicely displayed as a wall feature on the way to their bathroom. Unfortunately, none was for sale, and to be honest, I don’t think we would want to part with that kind of money even if they were for sale. To add on, he showed us the whole suite of Ichiro’s malt for Whisky Talk FUKUOKA. Bottled in celebration of the Japanese “Whisky Talk” festival held annually in Fukuoka, so far there have been 5 editions of it till 2015, and we were so envious of his full collection. We did try asking him if he would sell any to us, and he said “not for sale” coolly with a smile.
Amazing collection of Japanese whiskies from Ichiro.
The interesting thing is when we left the bar, we decided to pop into this random alcohol shop just across the street to see what they had. Lo and behold, they actually had one of the Ichiro’s malt for Whisky Talk FUKUOKA 2015 with the image of a black Cat on it. So you are wondering if we bought it? Yes we did! Now I am on a quest to find the rest to complete the series.
Me at Canal City, Fukuoka next morning after a nice night out at Bar Higuchi.