Tonkotsu Mare Street has a range of more than 60 whiskies, the majority of which are Japanese. You’ll find some rarities along with an extensive range from Nikka and Suntory, as well as Paul John from Goa, India and a few from the Taiwanese Kavalan. The long, zinc-topped bar sits at the front of the ramen restaurant which serves some of London’s best ramen made with fresh noodles and long-simmered broths. Have a chat with the bar team who’ll be able to recommend a whisky or two to sip at the bar, or to drink with dinner. David Wrigley, our resident whisky expert says: with whisky, it’s useful to think about terroir as you would a wine. Whisky from a coastal region like the Islands of Scotland or the coast of Hokkaido like Yoichi, tend to bring with them the vigourous, salty elements of their home. They therefore pair very well with fish and sushi in particular. I often look to pick out distinct tastes and aromas from a whisky and think how those elements work with food. A whisky that’s particularly nutty I will try and pair with something earthy like mushrooms. If a whisky has a strong orchard fruit character I’ll match it with pork.

Three stand-out whiskies chosen by David.

For an expression of what Japanese whisky is all about I think the Hibiki 17 is a great choice. There are those Mizunara characteristics, the coconut and the sandalwood with some pine resin and oak to go with it. It’s also got three things which stand out in Japanese whisky- it’s incredibly smooth and harmonious, it’s beautifully packaged and it’s ridiculously expensive.

Ichiro's Malt Double Distillery. Contains whisky from the sadly defunct Hanyuu distillery and Chichibu. Vanilla, coconut and generally bourbon-like characteristics are initially apparent, followed by some wonderful wood (Mizunara?) and spice notes. Pretty hard to find nowadays.

For something a little bit different, the Nikka Coffey Malt is perfect. The only malt whisky in the world made in a Coffey Still (normally used for grain whisky). Clean citrus fruit, dense spice and rich oak. One for the train spotters.

We host regular whisky tastings at the restaurant. For details of the next one, or to arrange a private tasting event, email marestreet@tonkotsu.co.uk.

nikka from the barrel
£4.5 £8 full-bodied, spicy, peppery and punchy. great in a manhattan or a sour. 51.4%.
nikka all malt
£4 £7 soft, rich and delicious. try over ice with chicken kara-age. 40%.
nikka blended whisky
£4 £7 balanced, clean and fruity. 40%
pure malt red
£5 £9 clean, fruity and quite nutty. great in a highball with a touch of sweet vermouth. 43%.
pure malt black
£5 £9 full of fruit, balanced oak, peat and toffee. 43%.
pure malt white
£5 £9 peat and malt with plenty of fruit. makes a fine, smoky highball with a twist of fresh ginger. 43%.
Nikka super rare old
£5.5 £10 too easy to drink. 43%
super nikka revival limited edition
£10 £19 a limited edition of super nikka, available only in europe. 43%
nikka coffey grain
£6.5 £12 grain whisky produced mainly from corn using a coffey still. sweet bourbon-like vanilla and corn notes. 45%.
coffey malt
£6.5 £12 while most distilleries use their coffey stills to make grain whisky, nikka also uses the coffey still to distill malt whisky. robust, oily, spicy and rich. makes a superior old fashioned. 45%.
nikka black 8
£10 £19 a rare 8 year-old version of the nikka black blended whisky. 40%
taketsuru pure malt
£5.5 £10 aged on average for around 10 years in a variety of different cask types, including some sherry wood for extra richness. 43%.
taketsuru pure malt 17
£12 £23 fruity and spicy, rounded with vanilla and chocolate. 43%.
taketsuru pure malt 21
£18 £35 cocoa, black pepper and sherry. 43%.
yoichi no age
£15 £29 a no age statement single malt produced by the yoichi distillery, the first distillery established by nikka in 1934. fruit and peat. 43%.
yoichi 12
peat, sherry and oak. excellent with the seafood ramen. 45%. *not for sale but be nice and you might get one
yoichi 15
sweet, spicy and nutty, we are going to miss this whisky. 45% *not for sale but be nice and you might get one
miyagikyo no age
£15 £29 sweet and elegant. 43%.
miyagikyo 10
£28 £55 soft, clean, fruity and sweet. 45%.
miyagikyo 15
£50 £99 smooth, sweet and rich. 45%.
hibiki harmony
£6.5 £12 sweet, fruity, and easy. 43%.
hibiki 12
£10 £19 smooth, sweet and oaky. the whisky is partly matured in plum liqueur barrels. 43%.
hibiki 17
£18 £35 sweet and rich. there are crisp notes of honey, resin and oak. 43%.
the yamazaki single malt – distiller’s reserve
£5.5 £10 red berries, oak and vanilla. 43%.
yamazaki 12
£15 £29 smooth and soft with tropical fruit notes. 43%.
yamazaki bourbon barrel - 2013
£25 £49 fantastically complex single cask. stone fruit, vanilla, toasty oak. 48%.
yamazaki puncheon - non chill-filtered
£22 £43 the slow maturation afforded by the massive 480 litre puncheon casks give this whisky an extra element of elegance. dried coconut, honey, vanilla. 48%.
yamazaki 18
£45 £89 rich and oaky, citrus and sherry notes. a big beast. if you’re feeling flash try this with the okonomiyaki. the salty plum and dried fruit flavours match up perfectly with the sticky, rich sauce. 43%.
the hakushu single malt – distiller’s reserve
£5.5 £10 smoky and herbaceous. delicious in a highball with a couple of sprigs of mint. a lovely foil for the rich tonkotsu. 43%.
hakushu 12
£15 £29 smooth, fruity and smoky. 43%.
hakushu 18
£45 £89 malty, fruity with a subtle, faded smokiness. 43%.
karuizawa “spirit of asama” 48
magical, sherry cask-spicy richness from this long since closed distillery. drink it while you can ’cause it ain’t coming back. 48%. *not for sale but be nice and you might get one
karuizawa “spirit of asama” 55
a step up in complexity and intensity from its little brother. loads of spice, varnish, earth and a big handful of raisins. the stuff of legends. you can add water but i wouldn’t. 55%. *not for sale but be nice and you might get one
ichiro malt&grain
£23 £45 “worldwide blended whisky” it says. malt, honey, tobacco and hay. 46%.
ichiro double distilleries
£25 £49 a bottling of whisky from chichibu and hanyu distilleries, finished in japanese oak. nothing else quite like it. bourbon-like initially, developing interesting wood and spice characters. 46%.
ichiro’s malt wine wood reserve
£11 £21 ichiro akuto is known as the enfant terrible of japanese whisky. he started the chichibu distillery in 2007 near the site of the long defunct hanyu distillery once owned by his grandfather. known for innovative, young and idiosyncratic whiskies, akuto also holds old stock of hanyu, karuizawa and kawazaki to blend with his still extremely young malts. we suspect this delicious, fiery and yet fruity malt has more than a little hanyu but there’s no way to know for sure. 46%.
chichibu “the peated”
£24 £47 2015 version (only 5980 bottles available) or 2013 version. the peatiest whisky in the world, apparently. young, brassy and absolutely soaked in peat and smoke. tropical fruit and smoked meat. 53.5%.
chichibu “on the way”
£15 £29 at five years this is positively ancient by chichibu standards. hot on the nose but surprisingly forgiving on the palate. coconut, baked banana, crème brulee. 54%.
chichibu “port pipe”
£21 £141 aging (for a while) in a traditional port pipe gives this whisky the most remarkable colour, like a good provence rose. fearsome on the nose but rather sweet and fruity on the palate. one for the adventurous. 54.5%.
chichibu “chibidaru”
£13 £25 rich and fruity with loads of caramel. great stuff. 53.5%.
komagatake single cask 1989, new american oak
£30 £59 mars closed its doors (more on that later) shortly after releasing this fine, powerful, cask strength whisky. a little water can really help to tame this beast and bring out its delicate, sensitive side. massive grunt without water, the banana, oak and orange still show through with some big cayenne pepper heat. 59%.
komagatake ‘the revival’ 2011
£19 £37 a good news story for the japanese whisky revival: the shinshu distillery started up again and has released its first malt into a market desperate for new whiskies from japan. ‘the revival’ is lightly peated and surprisingly mature for its age. honey, chocolate, toffee and orange. 58%.
mars maltage cosmo
£11.5 £22 this blend combines malts from the shinshu distillery with malts from scotland. wood, honey and hints of smoke. 43%
toguchi premium
£5.5 £10 an example of naturalised japanese whisky. the producers import distilled spirit from scotland and canada then age it in a tunnel under a mountain. after a while it mysteriously becomes japanese. this expression is dominated by grain and suggests butterscotch and freshly cut grass. bourbon fans take note. 43%.
toguchi 12
£8 £15 good stuff this. lemon, orange and grapefruit, green apples and a hint of smoke. 43%.
toguchi 18
£11 £21 earthy and leafy with a touch of grandma’s wardrobe. plenty of wood and cereals on the nose. 43%.
akashi white oak
£6 £11 easy-going, fruity blend with a hint of peat. 40%.
fujikai 10year old
£9 £17 fujikai is produced at the monde shuzo distillery, a wine producer at the foot of mount fuji. this whisky is full of vanilla and apples notes, but also acetone and nail polish. 43%.
king car
£9.5 £18 fragrant and tropical. 40%.
kavalan single malt
£7 £13 fragrant, young whisky from taiwan. remarkably good for its age, taiwan’s tropical climate lends a maturity that one really wouldn’t expect. like your mate who could get served at 14. 40%.
kavalan concertmaster
£7 £13 port cask finish, sweet and fruity. 40%
kavalan solist ex-bourbon cask
£14.5 £28 a single cask whisky with lots of punch. loads of fruit balanced with woody spice. this isn’t a great asian whisky, it’s just great whisky. 57.8%.
Paul john single malt - brilliance
£4.5 £8 sweet and spicy, caramel and orange. 46%
paul john single malt - “edited”
£5 £9 a sweet, spicy whisky with just a hint of underlying smoke. 46%.
paul john single cask p1-164
£7 £13 quite delicate for the strength it’s packing. a little sweet with armfuls of fruit and cream on the palate, and a hint of spice. think strawberries and cream with a twist of black pepper and cumin. 57%.
paul john cask peated
£7.5 £14 beautifully integrated peat shows that someone down there in goa knows what they’re about. barley from the himalayas and peat from islay. raisins, cedar, and willie nelson levels of smoke. 59.2%.
amrut “fusion”
£6 £11 features barley from the himalayas and scotland. dark chocolate, oak, citrus and gentle peat. makes the world’s greatest rob roy. 50%.
amrut “herald”
£16 £31 an interesting experiment from the chaps at amrut, who shipped four bourbon barrels 5,000 miles from bangalore to the remote german island of helgoland to finish their maturation. a quixotic notion that we applaud. caramel sweetness on the nose with hints of vanilla. the finish provides a nice balancing dose of bitter oak. 58.4%.
amrut portonova
£9 £17 un-peated, single malt matured initially in a combination of new american oak and ex bourbon barrels, then transferred to port pipes and then back to ex bourbon casks. confusing but delicious, at full cask strength. 62.1%
amrut single cask - px-sherry/2697 - bottle 343/348
£10 £19 this single cask - single malt whisky was first matured in charred american virgin oak casks and then in the pedro ximenez sherry butt, filled in 2009. it was bottled in 2013 and the total maturation loss is 39%. yes: 39%. bottled at cask strength. 56.5%
buffalo trace bourbon
£4 £6.5 a great all-rounder from kentucky. a vanilla and lavender nose, toffee and corn rich palate, and a spicy rye finish. 40%.
knob creek small batch bourbon
£4 £7.5 toasted nuts and oak on the nose. sweet, rich and full bodied in the mouth with a big whack of rye spice to finish. 50%.
sazerac rye
£6 £11 classic rye whisky. caramel, fruit and spice. 45%.
rittenhouse rye 100
£4.5 £8.5 lots going on here. pepper, tobacco, honey, oranges and cinnamon. makes the best manhattan. 50%.
new zealand 19 year old 1993 single cask 32
£12 £23 great fruit character from this sadly defunct distillery on new zealand’s south island. quite tropical for a whisky this old but plenty of good, balancing wood characteristics. 55.4%.
new zealand double wood 15 year old
£10 £19 finished in french oak barrels originally home to kiwi pinot noir. the whisky has borrowed plenty of red fruit from its predecessor. lush and creamy. 40%.
bain’s cape mountain whisky
£3 £5.5 very unusual single grain whisky. sweet enough to go really well with desserts. warm, smooth and buttery. 43%.
nikka blended 40% 70cl
nikka from the barrel 51.4% 50cl
nikka all malt 40% 70cl
nikka pure malt red 43% 50cl
nikka pure malt black 43% 50cl
nikka pure malt white 43% 50cl
nikka super rare old 43% 70cl
nikka taketsuru pure malt 43% 70cl
nikka coffey grain 45% 70cl
nikka coffey malt 45% 70cl
suntory hibiki harmony 43% 70cl