Tag Archive: Japan


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.

Suntory: Yamazaki Aged Umeshuu (Japan: Umeshuu: 17% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold.

Nose: Sweet plum and figgy pudding. Golden syrup. Marzipan and toasted marshmallow.

Body: Thick and syrupy. Vanilla toffee and golden syrup. Honey. Plums. Mild whisky notes. Treacle. Fig rolls. Toasted teacakes.

Finish: Plums. Toasted teacakes. Golden syrup. Marshmallows and white chocolate. Fig rolls. Raspberry yogurt. Blended whisky air. Cherries to glacier cherries.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m split on how to describe it- as there is not a huge amount of whiskyesque notes about this – but they do definitely influence the proceedings. Best thing I can say, is that if you are looking to grab this for the Yamazaki then I would say look elsewhere- even if actual Yamazaki is stupidly expensive at the moment – however if you are an Umeshuu fan who also happens to like a bit of whisky then the time in the oak, and the addition of a touch of whisky has definitely given this a different twist.

The base comes out as a slightly drier take on an Umeshuu – still quite syrupy and very thick with sweet honey and golden syrup notes but less overwhelming with a drier, toasted teacake backing note that takes this notoriously sickly drink and makes it a bit easier to drink and a touch more complex with the savoury contrast.

The oak ageing does seem to add similar to what I would expect from bourbon cask ageing for whisky – marshmallows, toasted notes, vanilla toffee and white chocolate. Nice, soft, sweet rounding notes that actually soften the more raw artificial sweetness of some umeshuus. Others I have spoken to have noticed a sherry influence, but for me that seems to tie more closely to the base umeshuu – as always I could be wrong.

So, all this way in and I’ve not mentioned the actual plums yet, whatsupwiththat right? That is a fairly big part of a plum liqueur. Well, while it takes a few sips to show mid body, it is instantly there top and tail – lots of plums, figs and other varied dark fruits in general. Then as you get acclimatised to the sweetness it shows mid body as well. The oddest note’s a raspberry yogurt thickness that actually reminds me of Yamzaki 12, but I could just be being easily influenced by knowing the drink’s backstory.

I’m far from a Umeshuu expert, but this sits just on the edge of the right side of too sickly and has a good amount of range to really enjoy, more than I associate with my other experiences with this style of drink. Sweet plums over toasted texture dryness with whisky high notes makes an altogether good experience by me.

Background: This is something brought back from Honk Kong after I saw it in the airport’s duty free. Glad I did – looks like this doesn’t have an official release in the UK and import prices are insane. At the airport it came in at around 35 quid (give or take depending on exchange rate) which was much more reasonable. Anyway, what is it? Something that turns up very rarely on this blog – Umeshuu aka plum liqueur. I only rarely do notes on similar things, but this has a special twist that makes it, maybe, just about applicable for the blog. The drink has been aged in toasted ex Yamazaki whisky casks, and mixed with some Yamazaki that had been aged in Umeshuu casks, to make for a very incestuous drink relationship. Ok, yeah, I don’t normally do whisky liqueurs either- I’m mainly do this one for my own enjoyment. Anyway, I’m guessing this is being made as a gimmick release to let them get as many releases out of their limited stock. Yamazaki is highly in demand and a lot is being held back for aged releases so current releases are very tight. Well, it worked, I bought one.

coedo-kyara

Coedo: Kyara (Japan: Pilsner: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow gold with moderate white head and no real carbonation.

Nose: Malt caramel. Light nutty hops. Milky coffee. Dried apricot.

Body: Milky coffee. Honey. Creamy lemon. Light hop crispness. Quite malt led. Creamy. Oats. Nutty. Slight stewed fruit. Dried apricot. Raisins. Hop oils.

Finish: Toffee. Light bitterness. Milky coffee. Porridge. Moderate hop prickle. Walnuts. Slight chalk. Honey. Madeira.

Conclusion: I was not expecting this to have quite as thick body as it does. It packs in lots of caramel, lots of toffee, honey – even some nuttiness in there. I was expecting a crisp, fresh lager – this is a comparatively full force, sweet sipping, thing with a touch of hops layered on too.

Now as I have reference in the background, I tried this when it was just a few days older than it should have been – but despite that it still has some good, but not excessive, bitterness to it, and some light citrus notes working in there as well. Now the citrus would probably be more emphasised if tried when the beer was young but right now it seems like a sweet fruity dusting over the sweet malt base, leading out into a pretty nutty finish.

It is very easy drinking big sweetness. Light chalk and nutty character rises with the bitterness over time which gives a slight grounding to what is a predominantly sweet beer. If you want a refreshing lager then, as indicated before, you might find this a tad of a disappointment. However this still isn’t hard drinking, and gives a good chunk of flavour in exchange for that. While not a world shaker it actually had got quite a bit of range to with with darker fruity notes below. I think if I had it fresher there would probably be a bit more hop prickle to contrast as well, though that is just conjecture on my side at the moment.

A solid thick lager – on the heavier end of the style and better off for it. I approve.

Background: Haven’t had Coedo since I was last in Japan, which is a few years ago now – so when I saw this in Independent Spirit I thought I would grab it. Now it turns out this was very close to best before date when I grabbed it, so when I drank it, it was about a week past its best before date. When I noticed that I considered not putting the notes up – but decided against that for a couple of reasons 1) I still enjoyed it 2) Looking at the profile on the bottle and other notes it seems I have very close matches to theirs, so it doesn’t look like it was hurt too much and 3) beers have to travel a long way from Japan, so they tend to be a few months old by the time they get here anyway. Any which way, just keep that in mind when you are reading these notes. Drunk while listening to Meshuggah – Obzen – fucking brutally heavy, technically awesome metal.

Isawa Blended Whiskey

Isawa: Blended Whiskey (Japanese Blended Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain gold.

Viscosity: Thick fast streaks.

Nose: Alcohol in thick jelly style. Some lime. Sulphur. Rice and grain. Toffee. Actually more alcohol style with water.

Body: Kind of empty. Toffee. Dry rice and rice crackers. Vanilla. Water adds, well a slight watery character. Still mainly toffee.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Rice crackers and boiled white rice. Dust balls. Grit. Muddy water. Light lime and chocolate. Water makes, well, pretty much the same.

Conclusion: You know how Japan has a very hard earned and well deserved reputation for high quality whisky? Well this is trying to shit all over that reputation then flush it down the toilet. It is possibly, simultaneous, the most empty and most unwelcome whisky I have ever encountered.

Let’s jump straight past the aroma and go onto that first sip. There is nearly nothing as it hits the tongue, now over time toffee will come out, but for now the best I can define an element is just kind of stale rice crackers. That is it.

Then, oh the, the finish hits. Dust, grit and muddy water. How can something so empty end this badly? There is still some toffee, but generally it is just rough and without any real intended or good flavours.

Now may be a good time to bring up something I encountered from googling. This is described as having a “unusual and intriguing flavour”. That is possible the closest we will find to truth in advertising for this thing – It is definitely unusual, and well I am intrigued how they made a whisky this bad. I have said many a time that there is nearly never such a thing as a bad whisky, even rough whiskies can be made better with water, and generally they have the hard to define “whisky” character that brings you to the game. Not here. I can imagine a bunch of advertising execs sitting, and their long withered conscience nagging at them. Even they can’t describe these in the usual flowery terms. It would be a lie too far

So, “unusual and intriguing flavour” it ended up then.

Incidentally I mentioned water above, no amount of water helps this. It just seems to same but more, well, like dirty water. Water just makes it taste like water.

So, erm, to be fair, what is the good side of this? Erm, toffee notes exist. Occasional lime notes come out. Ok, being fair done!

So, back to why this is shit. It feels rough. It feels empty. It, somehow, manages to make a finish that is only grit and dry rice last an insanely long and painful time.

I was sceptical when warned about this, but no, they were right, this is possibly the worst whisky that exists, it is at least the worst I have ever tried.

It is bad.

Seriously bad.

Background: This may be the whiskey I tweeted about earlier in the week. Maybe. This is the second of a set of whisky bottles given to me with about a double of spirit left in them for tasting note purposes, provided by Independent Spirit. Many thanks! Drunk while listening to Ritualz: CDR album, a weird electronic, haunting thing of which I am very fond. Chris of Independent spirit did warn me this was bad up front, I thought he was exaggerating… This is described as being made with a malted barley “close to” pearl barley in style, which from a quick google is a barley with all the bran removed. Not sure that sounds like a good idea.

Adelphi The Glover 14 Year

Adelphi: The Glover: 14 Year (Scottish and Japanese Blended Malt Whisky: 14 Year: 44.3% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed deep gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Smoke. Dried apricots and almonds. Thick. Vanilla. Apples. Water brings out pears and cinnamon.

Body: Very smooth texture, but noticeable alcohol. Malt chocolate, smoke and charring. Apricot slices. Dried beef slices. Intense peach syrup sweetness and stewed fruit. Coal dust. Water adds apples and cinnamon, beef broth and a steam beer texture. Tropical fruit. Treacle. More water adds vanilla toffee.

Finish: Smoke and ash. Malt chocolate. Steam beer air. Cinnamon. Toffee and stewed fruit. Water adds treacle, still an alcohol air. More water adds beef broth and vanilla toffee.

Conclusion: This is a very odd one to do notes on, as I had to return a few times more than usual. The experience when I first tried on the bottle opening, when I tried when doing notes, and when I tried post doing notes but before putting up the notes, all were different experiences. So I drank a bit more and did a few more sets of notes, and this is the final conclusion.

This is a very thick whisky – Now it does have a bit higher abv than usual, but from the mouthfeel I would have guessed that this was a cask strength. Thankfully, while it does have a noticeable alcohol character, it isn’t near the usual cask strength fire and what it does have is easily muted by water.

It punches with smoke from the aroma onwards, but not in what would be the more expected peaty, meaty way of whiskeys such as Ardbeg. This has drier smoke with a coal dust style character that is simultaneously lower intensity but despite that harsher in the impact due to the dryness. This is one of the elements that seemed to vary a lot however, there is always some element of the character but it seemed very variable depending on circumstances.

That is not the most notable characteristic though – the unusual character that really comes out is as the originally smooth mouthfeel expands out into a strange, almost steam beer styled, slightly gas cooker styled, feel. It reminds me of an old whisky I had tried that had been direct heated rather that indirect heated at distillation. I am unsure if that is what caused the characteristic here – I know some Japanese distilleries go very old school and traditional on making their whisky. Any which way it gives a very distinct character.

Initially the whisky was dominated by full and harsh coal notes, water lets it soften to green fruit and apricot slices that come out backed treacle sweetness. The whisky it is still led by that gas cooked air and can be harsh coal backed, though these element seemed to come and go in the varied tastings. The sweetness matches the intensity of the harshness when it is there, but does not reduce the impact. When the harshness is not present you instead get a huge stewed fruit sweetness pushing forth in its place.

When it still has those harsh notes it feels slightly too all intense, all the time for me. The thing people oft forget about Laphroaig and Ardbeg is that for all their intensity, they have sweetness contrast or moments of release. Thankfully in the majority of my samples the harsh notes gave way to that stewed fruit, still intense but providing that touch of contrast.

Now that is not to say that there is not a lot else going on, as you can see from the notes there are cinnamon and apples mix – pear notes that remind me of Hakushu whisky, though it is not unique to that distillery. It is well made and smooth, especially with water, and remains smooth even with the harsh flavours when they are present, but it doesn’t always mesh.

I admire its mix of odd and even possible nigh unique characteristics, when it works it is good – the mix of smoke, steam beer character and stewed fruit is a journey. It possibly doesn’t need to be as thick as it is all the time, it can get wearing – especially when the harsher notes are there. As a whisky it is a tad unreliable, hence needing multiple returns, but when it is on it is very distinct and pretty good.

Background: 1,500 notes, and I have been holding this one since the beginning of the year for the special occasion – grabbed from The Tasting Rooms on recommendation, this is a blend of Japanese and Scottish Malt whisky and one of 1,500 bottles. Well, 1,500 bottles this release. I’m sure they will do another release. As a fan of both countries’ whisky this sounded fascinating. So, for music, did I go for J-pop, anime soundtracks, taiko drumming to reflect Japan? Bagpipes, Scottish Punk, or such for Scotland? No, I went for “Heck”, because it reminds me of their absolutely mental live gigs which are basically riots with music. Hey, my blog, my choice. Been a fun 1,500 notes and here is looking forwards to 1,500 more – thanks for reading, commenting, and, until next time – enjoy your drink!

Ichiro's Malt The Final Vintage Of Hanya

Ichiro’s Malt: The Final Vintage Of Hanya (Japanese Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 59% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold.

Viscosity: Initial fast streaks then thin slow streaks follow.

Nose: Big, very big. Chocolate fudge and honey. Praline. Crushed peanuts. Pencil shavings. Mild orange peel. Mild coffee. Water expands with white grape and smoke. More water makes for a more wood character.

Body: Very warming. Milky coffee. Burns if held but not initially. Charred oak. Bitter. Slicker with water – sour white grapes. White chocolate. Dried beef. Sweeter grapes and beefier as more water goes in. Still very viscous with water.

Finish: Dry oak. Water adds dry beef slice notes. Malt chocolate. More water adds pepper and spice racks, grapes and bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: I’m being very careful with this one, trying a little slice of history. I knew that the whisky would be harsh neat – is is 59% – but I still needed to try just a little sip like that, to do otherwise would feel like a waste. After my little mouth numbing indulgence I then had to walk the thin line between adding enough water to get it in the perfect state before I had finished it, and the fear of drowning the whisky.

The aroma, as the item that is most easily examined without consuming, therefore gives the best insight into what we have here. It is deep, thick and a mix between praline chocolate and fudge. When water enters the equation it remains thick, but now with viscous grapes freshening it without diminishing the weight of character. In all things it feels big, yet somehow not raw.

Even as I enter the main whisky, sipping upon the liquid I find one that becomes burning if held too long, and numbing in the finish, one that needs water, but despite that, even neat there is a smoothness to it. It is numbing, but not harsh in raw alcohol character. Water takes it from this deep, heavy, coffee touched beast to a lighter, yet still peat or beef touched, grape sweet style. The balance swaying between those depending on water and there is plenty of room to find your balance.

On the once through I gave it I find that I feel unprepared to give a complete verdict. I can feel that there is a lot of complexity to this- I have seen a lot of depth already and I have feeling that there is more to find. It makes full use of its high abv.

Purely based on what I have experienced I am happy to say that even with water this is a dark and almost bitter whisky. It allows you to find your level with the grape contrast but the main core is that bitterness, chocolate and nuts. If somehow you are lucky enough to try this, please do so.

Many thanks again to Chris of Independent Spirit for giving me this chance.

Background: Again- many, many thanks to Chris from Independent Spirit for this one. He got a small amount of this, the final vintage from the now closed Hanya distillery, and gave me some of that to sample. Distilled 2000 for bottling 2010 by my quick bit of internet research. With it being a necessarily small, yet awesome, sample my notes are not as long pondered as usual, but I do my best. To do any less in this situation would be a crime. I needed appropriately epic music for this, something elegant and yet bombastic. So I listened to Napalm Death. It is the only way. The container in the photo is not the original container. I took a photo of the original at Independent Spirit with a cheap phone camera, but as you can see below, I managed to get pretty much everything but the whisky in focus.

Photo0073

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