Diageo-owned Roe & Co has released an Irish whiskey that uses Japanese sugi wood and a ‘unique’ maturation process, described as a first for the category.The new Roe & Co Japanese Sugi (46% ABV) whiskey is made with a maturation process ‘never before seen within the category’ and a rare wood type. The brand said the product shows new ways to ‘explore what’s possible within Irish whiskey’. George Harper, master blender for Roe & Co, explained: “When looking to create unique flavours as a blender, we turn to raw materials such as wood to add that depth and uniqueness to the liquid. Irish whiskey regulations allow us to look beyond oak and so working with Japanese sugi wood has been a really exciting process for us.” To create the whiskey, the team extended the length of the bungs (stopper) and added five of these to each cask. A total of 10 casks were laid down, with each blend tasted on a regular basis. The maturation method is said to give the whiskey notes of wood spice and tropical fruits. The Irish whiskey producer said Japanese sugi was the perfect wood to use due to its porous nature, which imparts flavours quickly. The wood adds aromatic and perfumery qualities to the liquid. Lora Hemy, head distiller at Roe & Co, added: “We are lucky to be part of such a bold, and evolving industry that we wanted to create something really special for this innovation and really stretch our imagination as to what we can achieve technically. “East Asian wood species offer unique and beautiful aromatic compounds and the toasted sugi in particular it really brings out flavours notes of matcha tea, toasted sandalwood, lychee, orris root and treacle toffee. “Working with this wood has been extremely exciting for me. This experimental whiskey has Roe & Co as its backbone and is bursting with exciting new flavour components to compliment.” The whiskey is recommended served neat, over ice or in Japanese-inspired Highballs. The expression is exclusively available from the Roe & Co Distillery in Dublin and through the brand’s online store for pre-order. Priced at €80 (US$69) per bottle, it is available for delivery to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In November last year, Roe & Co released a 13-year-old Irish whiskey matured in Port casks as its inaugural single malt.