Ichiro: Chichibu: Cask Strength Port Pipes 2012 (Japanese Single Malt Whisky: 5 Year: 59 % ABV)

Visual: Deep ruddy red touched gold.

Nose: Red and black cherries. Liquorice. Plums. Raisins. Pencil shavings. Subtle custard. Cherry blossom. Water adds more pencil shavings and more liquorice.

Body: Sweet dessert wine. Cherries. Strawberries. Digestive biscuits. Water brings out oak and brown bread.

Finish: : Strawberries. Oak. Port. Blackberries and blueberries. Alcohol air. Raisins. Water makes lightly grassy. Sweet apples. Apricot. Molasses touch.

Conclusion: Oh this is so nice – an experience like utterly sweet dessert wine mixed in with wodges of sweet red fruit. It is not light, but similarly it is not a fiery one. While I will advise using water to find your right balance for the flavour, that is all your really need the water for as it is not harsh despite the stupendous abv.

While water helps find the sweet spot, your are getting a lot from the whisky from the very first moment. Huge red fruit from the port ageing – strawberries, cherries, lots of red wine, lots of dessert wine and lots of port. The greenery notes that I have come to, over the past hour or so, associate with the Chichibu spirit do come out, but you need a lot of water to do so and it is only a small backing behind the port influence. Is is the benefit and flaw or port ageing that it can punch out over nearly anything.

Now, with that tiny point to keep in mind, this is delightful. Full of sweet fruit, but not sickly – clean feeling but you can get the more greenery and rustic character out of it if you really try. It has the bright red fruit, and darker and heavier fruit notes below, hitting the high and low of that range. An amazing one to try and probably the standout of the five as long as the port dominance does not bother you.

Background:I am a sucker for whisky that is aged in port pipes, it seems to add so much to a whisky. Though it can be very dominant and override the base spirit some times, so a treat best enjoyed in moderation in my experience. If I took my notes correctly (again, alcohol was involved..) this is an exclusive bottling for the Mitsukoshi Isetan department stores in Japan, so I considered myself very lucky to get to try it. This was bottled 2017 so I am estimating it as a 5 year based on that. 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.