Ichiro: Chichubu: IPA Cask Finish 2017 (Japanese Single Malt Whisky: 57.5% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold with slow thin streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Thick. Menthol liqueur. Peppermint. Greenery. Stewed apricots. Pine needles. Water adds more evident mint leaves. Guava.

Body: Apricot. Oily. Alcohol weight. Water adds passion-fruit and guava. More oils. Greenery. More water adds more fruit including orange and much more guava.

Finish: Menthol. Oily. Hop oils. Tarry notes. Pine needles. Passion fruit. Water adds orange jelly sweets.

Conclusion: First impressions on this was was pretty unimpressive. It was really thick, really oily on the aroma, which can be good points, but here it just felt muggy. The first sips were equally oily with a thick, burning character from the alcohol strength which felt rougher than the other, equally high strength Chichibu’s I had tried that night. I was beginning to think that between this and the Glenfiddich IPA cask that ageing whisky in ex beer casks, or at least IPA casks, just did not work.

Now, following the usual path I then added water and – oh wow, water really did change things in a big way. Slowly but surely the oily notes shift and oily fruit notes come out. First you get apricot, then guava, which combined with the hop oil character really sells the IPA imagery that this is sold upon, while still backing it with the whisky weight of character.

It results in a very different experience- fruity, but not in the standard whisky way of sharp hits of fruit sweets, rich vinous fruit, or subtle slivers of backing fruit in the spirit, instead coming in a creamier fruit fashion and with a range of east coast to New England fruity IPA style.

This is terrible neat, but with water it show how IPA ageing should work and is a fascinating dram.

Background: Next up in the Chichibu tastings we have this unusual bottling – the 2017 bottling that has been aged in an IPA cask. This was paired with and IPA from Uiltje which I saved until I have done the majority of my notes. Again unsure of the distilled date on this so not sure of the age of it. Due to this being from a tasting, with the usual distractions coming from cool info being given by the host, chatting, smaller measures, etc my notes will be a tad shorter than usual. However the chance to try and do notes on these five whiskies that would set me back silly money if I tried to buy them all individually meant that I gave it my best shot. This Chichubu tasting was done at Independent Spirit but the whisky was provided by James, a private collector who did the tasting itself. At twenty five quid it was ridiculously good value. Chichibu is a tiny distillery that started operating in 2008 and I think is the newest Japanese distillery still. Never tried their stuff, but had heard many good things about them before going in.

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