Tag Archive: Ichiro


Ichiro: Chichibu: Single Cask: No 2650 (Japanese Single Malt Whisky: 6 Year: 59.3% ABV)

Visual: Deep rich gold.

Nose: Cherries and black cherries. Rich red wine. Slight darker red wine notes as well. Shortbread. Red grapes. Water makes lightly tarry and oily.

Body: Creamy. Cherries. Sweet red wine. Water brings apricot, plums and light sulphur. Chewy feel. Fudge.

Finish: Black cherry. Creamy. A mix of rye and bourbon whisky notes. Apricot. Water adds plums, lightly grassy. Light charred notes and greenery.

Conclusion: It is odd, looking at these notes, I am using a lot of the same words that I used to describe the port pipes Chichibu whisky, but when you examine them holistically rather than point by point they are very different whiskies. For example. This leans heavier on the darker fruit, and less on the lighter fruit, which instantly creates a darker, heavier impression on the tongue and in the mind.

It is heavy on the dark red wine notes, sweet but with the harder charred oak notes below. Again most of the base spirit character is lost to the weight of the barrel ageing, but the greenery notes do come out with a lot of water added. It is a lot creamier than the other Chichibu I tried tonight, giving a nice, smooth mouthfeel.

This is a rewarding dark whisky, but does not really stand out from the other similarly sherry aged whiskies around and you can get them a lot cheaper than this. This is a very good whisky, but despite that it is not a stand out one. If you like sherry, then this does sherry ageing very obviously, utterly laden with dark fruit, but from that the base character is overwhelmed.

Glad to have tried it, but there are better examples of sherry you can buy for less.

Background:. One final Chichibu whisky of the tasting – this one a single cask – cask no 2650 to be exact, aged from 2010 to 2016, so, six years aged I guess, ish. This one is a travel exclusive, so I presume only available at certain airports. Again, a bloomin’ hard one to get hold of then. This was aged first in bourbon casks then finished in oloroso sherry casks. 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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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.

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.

Ichiro: Chichibu: The Peated 2016 (Japanese Single Malt Whisky: 4 Year: 54.5% ABV)

Visual:Clear gold. Thin slow streaks.

Nose: Smokey. Beef crisps. Barbecue sausage. Charcoal. Honey barbecue sauce. Water adds spare ribs with Thai spice sauce glaze.

Body: Honey. Grapes. Sweet and smooth. Honey smoked sauce. Water adds spare ribs and thai seven spice.

Finish: Honey soaked barbecue sauce. Glazed ribs. Water adds Thai seven spice and dry beef.

Conclusion: This is much sweeter than I imagined it would be – the peat does kick out heavily early on, creating the image of a real meaty, charcoal tasting whisky. So that is what you would expect, what follows is far from that though.

It is smokey but in a real barbecue sauce fashion – glazed and spicy. It feels really thick on the tongue, the barbecue characteristics giving it a huge weight. It is oily, smoked and meaty backed in a sticky and sweeter fashion than you would usually expect from such a high peat level.

A completely different experience for a peated whisky with much more gamy meat in the meaty elements it has, so the peat it has, despite the weight, is actually a backing element here. The sweetness is thick and meaty so it doesn’t get sickly, instead bonding everything together.

Wonderful stuff.

Background: Bottled 2016 – Distilled 2012, so I am estimating the four years age statement from that. This is peated to 55 ppm, roughly equivalent to Ardbeg is peat levels I think. 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.

Ichiro: Chichibu: On The Way (2nd Release) (Japanese Single Malt Whisky: 55.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold with fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Light greenery. Light sulphur. Pencil shavings. Forests. Water adds twigs into the mix.

Body: Honey. Apples. Strong alcohol feel. Oak. Water adds golden syrup, pears and tinned tropical fruit. Peppery. Malt toffee. Apricot and apples.

Finish: Drying. Oak. Water makes peppery. More water adds white chocolate, light mint leaves, menthol and peppermint.

Conclusion: This seems to be a mix of two main whisky trends. The first is a very greenery led set of notes – menthol, forests, open air after the rain, and the like in imagery. Against that is the fruit apricot, apples and pears. With a few exceptions this leans very green in the imagery it brings.

Obviously at over 55% abv it is a bit potent and burning neat, but despite that it still shows the greenery very openly. Water is needed though to bring out the subtlety though – still in the fields to rural imagery though – peppery notes and such. The bourbon oak influence is more subtle – there are white chocolate notes but fairly dryly delivered, and touches of tinned tropical fruit. It results in a menthol fresh, peppery dry mix at the front, but backed by rewarding subtlety if you experiment with water. It reminds me of Johnnie Walker green, but with more fire to it.

So, rewarding, very evidently young, and very green and forest feeling whisky that , with water, rewards with just enough sweet notes to offset. A very good first impression for the Distillery.

Background: Bottled 2015 – not sure of the age statement for this one. It is a mix of two bourbon casks and a mizunara hogshead if I remember rightly. There was alcohol involved, please forgive me for my missing some notes. 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.

Ichiros Malt MWR

Ichiro’s: Malt MWR (Japanese Blended Malt Whisky: No Age Statement: 46% ABV)

Visual: Burnished gold.

Viscosity: Quick fast streaks.

Nose: Thick. Toffee. Husked barley. Golden syrup cakes. Vanilla. Pears and apples. Light oak. Water lightens and adds a shredded wheat grounding.

Body: Very smooth. Stewed apples and pears. Honey. Slightly fiery. Apricot. Water makes richer and smoother. Fudge. Custard, and brings out more of the existing fruits. Raspberry Pavlova.

Finish: Barley husks. Viscous sheen. Toffee. Drying. Pears. Water makes golden syrup, more pears and adds apricot.

Conclusion: Sometimes I wonder if it is psychosomatic or serendipity. This has in its main body exactly what the Bunnahabhain 25 promised in its aroma. So I go from disappointed in one, to very happy realisation of what I wanted in the other. There is stewed fruit, honey and apricot all delivered with a very smooth feel, albeit with a bit of an alcohol touch. So, what exactly is the odds of that?

Now, neat there is a bit of a sharpness to the high end of the aroma, kind of like freshly cut green fruit. It is a pity that water removes this, as it is a nice refreshing note to an otherwise quite thick whisky. However for removing that alcohol touch the water is overall a welcome addition.

The body is interesting, with all the delicate pears and apples that I would expect of, say, Hakushu but with none of the other delicate sensibilities. Instead here you get thick honey and golden syrup that basks around the whisky like a lazy lizard in the sun. It makes for a very rich, very sweet whisky that still manages to make room for the lighter elements. Even with the bit of extra fire neat you can still see those elements, and it doesn’t take much water to tamp it down.

Overall it is a massive stewed fruit mash up of a whisky. It is like an experimental punch bowl drizzled in syrup and spirit. Like a lot of Japanese whisky it feels very polished and smooth, more so because of its blended malt nature – it really has that rounded off edge style. Now for some people that level of polish can feel like a flaw, oddly enough. It can be seen as removing the interesting quirks. For me, if it is encountered too often, it can get dull, but as long as it is encountered rarely it can lead to interesting experiences like the one here. It creates a dessert wine of a whisky, one for a bit of a special occasion, it is too rich to have often, but is great to try as a well crafted one off.

Background; MWR is Mizunara Wood Reserve, or so google tells me. Google also tells me this is probably a blend of Hanyu and Chichibu whisky. Anyway, after my two hundredth whisky was a bit of a let down, but also free, I decided to go for a measure of something else – so I grabbed this. Again drunk at The Rummer hotel.

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