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ICHIRO’S MALT

 

ICHIRO’S Malt & Grain Chichibu Blended

ICHIRO’S Malt & Grain Chichibu blended whisky

 

  • Name: CHIRO’S Malt & Grain Chichibu Blended
  • Company: Venture Whisky
  • Category: Blended Whiskey 
  • Content: 46.5% ABV 
  • Volume: 700ml 
  • Price: 4,600

Tasting Notes

Nose     –   Peach and dried apricot, sweet butterscotch, vanilla cream, citrus zest, synthetic bananas and gooey malt.

Palate   –  Toffee first and foremost, with notes of barley malt, gingerbread, tropical fruits, honeyed pipe tobacco lveas, black pepper, roasted chestnut and freshly cut hay.

Finish  –  Medium length with vanilla and dried tropical fruit.

Our Coments

Ichiro Akuto makes some very good whiskies indeed, looking forward to trying his Malt & Grain blend. For those who have never heard of him, Ichiro is one of the rock stars of Japanese whisky, and surely becoming a cult figure in the indie distilling world. He comes from a long tradition of drink-makers and was there when the Hanyu distillery closed down. Now of course he’s known asthe master of Chichibu distillery, but in between he bought up and released some rather interesting single malts and blends.
The Malt & Grain is made up of whisky from these stocks, there is probably whisky from elsewhere, considering it says it’s ‘worldwide’ blended whisky (pretty big clue that) and bottled at 46% ABV.
It’s much easier to find in the UK than some of his other blends, which is good to see.

 

 

ICHIRO’S Malt Double Distilleries

ICHIRO’S Malt Double Distilleries

 

  • Name: CHIRO’S Malt Double Distilleries
  • Company: Venture Whisky
  • Category: Pure Malt 
  • Content: 46% ABV 
  • Volume: 700ml 
  • Price: 9,800

Tasting Notes

Nose     –   Definitely smell the sherry cask influence – despite the light colour, I get rich chocolate notes. Apple and pear are the main fruits, not really getting the typical sherry figs or raisins. There is also a lot of honey sweetness here, similar to the Mizunara Wood Reserve (MWR). A bit of allspice comes in as well, like in a nice rye blend (not over-powering).
And the perfumy/incense wood notes from the MWR are also present throughout.

Palate   –  Definite spicy kick up front, just like the MWR. The sweet fruity notes come in next, along with the honey and chocolate. Not as much sherry influence as I was expecting from the nose – getting more general oakiness now. Taste of Graham crackers. A bit malty. Also some bitterness, but greatly attenuated compared to the MWR (which was overwhelming). The baking spices – allspice, nutmeg – linger nicely. Nice mouth feel, not too watery.

Finish  –  The sweet honey and Graham cracker notes are the most prominent.
That MWR bitterness is present, but greatly subdued. The baking spices really help here, and linger for a nice long while. I even get a touch of apple at times. Not overly complex, but pleasant and fairly long-lasting.

Our Coments

Single Malt Whisky from now gone Hanyuu Distillery and the Single Malt Whisky from newly born Chichibu Distillery were blended for this Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries. Puncheon cask and sherry cask were used at Hanyuu Distillery , and Japanese oak cask was used at Chichibu Distillery. The oriental flavor of the Japanese oak cask brings out the sweetness of Hanyuu single malt, and the blend makes an exquisite harmony. Technically, by Scotch standard, alcohol matured in the Japanese oak cask is not a whisky, but the strong maturity , helped by the Chichibu climate, was achieved, very surprising that it was done in a short time as short as 1 year , and it was brought out well by this blending. It was chosen the World’s Best Non-Scotch Blended Malt No age category at World Whiskies Awards 2009 which is held by Whisky magazine. It is non chill filtered and non colored to keep the flavor, so it might show some cloudiness and dregs.

 

ICHIRO’S Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve

 

ICHIRO’S Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve

 

  • Name: CHIRO’S Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve
  • Company: Venture Whisky
  • Category: Pure Malt 
  • Content: 46% ABV 
  • Volume: 700ml 
  • Price: 13,000

Tasting Notes

Nose     –   Very floral and fragrant, with both woody and incense notes (“sandalwood” is often cited, which fits). Some grassiness, but again tending to the more sweet and fragrant aromas (mint?). It has a strong honeyed sweetness that reminds me a bit of Dalwhinnie (although the spirit seems younger here). Strong citrus presence, especially lemon peel and grapefruit.
grapefruit. Some sweet apple. Pleasant, with very sharp and clear scents.

Palate   –  Tangy and spicy upfront, with a peppery kick. The honey and fruity
sweetness is there from the start – with caramelized apple and citrus. Woodiness comes up fast though, with some sour and bitter notes. This sharp bitterness is reminiscent of some lightly smokey whiskies – but it is definitely more heavily pronounced on the MWR. Think sucking on a grapefuit that had sugar sprinkled on it – fruity sweetness upfront, followed by persistent bitterness (especially if you chew on the rind!). Some ginger too. Surprisingly light body overall, given the relatively high ABV (46%).

Finish  –  Relatively short. Not much going on here, except some lingering sweetness and peppery spiciness trying to cover up the woody bitterness (and failing). A bit of a let-down, honestly.

Our Coments

The eponymous brand name refers to Ichiro Akuto – grandson of the founder of the fabled Hanyu distillery (which shuttered production in 2000). Ichiro later founded the Chichibu distillery nearby, and managed to save a number of Hanyu casks. His “Ichiro’s Malt” series typically involve vattings of both old Hanyu stock and new Chichibu production.
The Mizunara Wood Reserve (MWR) is distinctive because it is a vatting of malts that have all been
aged in Japanese Mizunara oak casks (Quercus mongolica). There is an interesting article on Nonjatta
that describes the influence of this type of oak on Japanese whisky.

 

ICHIRO’S Malt Wine Wood Reserve

ICHIRO’S Malt Wine Wood Reserve

 

  • Name: CHIRO’S Malt Wine Wood Reserve
  • Company: Venture Whisky
  • Category: Pure Malt 
  • Content: 46% ABV 
  • Volume: 700ml 
  • Price: 25,000

Tasting Notes

Nose     –   A lot of red wine in the nose – that’s for sure. Spicy too with a certain nutty or marzipan feel to it and even coconut which is a rather unique combination. Licorice and star anise with red berries and crushed pepper

Palate   –  Hot and spicy on the entry with a nice sweetness, some dried figs and not too much wine over here. And the fruity side shines through. Red berries , chilly.on the second wave the tannins kick in and the grape peel and wine is felt more strongly. Some milk chocolate and cocoa too.

Finish  –  Pepper and chilly. Red wine. Tannins. Dark chocolate. Hints of berries and some smoky note too.

Our Coments

For those who are not familiar with Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the founder of now closed Hanyu Distillery. He started the Chichibu distillery in Japan’s Saitama prefecture in 2008, which by now released a few young (but good) expressions under the Chichibu label [check out my review of Ichiro’s first]
This particular whisky includes whisky distilled at the closed Hanyu distillery and was finished in a
French oak cask that contained Japanese red wine, bottled and blended (vatted) at the Chichibu distillery (Ichiro’s new distillery).

 

ICHIRO’S Malt Chichibu On The Way

 

  • Name: CHIRO’S Malt Chichibu On The Way
  • Company: Venture Whisky
  • Category: Single Malt Whisky
  • Content: 58.5% ABV 
  • Volume: 700ml 
  • Price: 28,000

Tasting Notes

Nose     –   Filled with tones of malty and a bit green nutty rucola, and toast. At first a bit grassy and underlying there is some sweet orchard fruit coming through. Cinnamon, Asian spices, bit wood and soft leather.

Palate   –  Sweet and filled with vanilla notes, raisin, light floral, fruity, green apples, banana and a bit tropical fruit notes.

Finish  –  cocoa, vanilla and a light citrus note in the back. It is a bit dry woody must say, but also has a very sweet taste to it. Scored it a 7 out of 10 for this quick nosing and tasting. Always difficult to do at festivals with all the other impressions and flavors going round. But tasting more and more from this distillery makes me know for sure I have to keep my eyes open for this one.

Our Coments

This is the first 5-year-old whisky from Ichiro Akuto’s Chichibu Distillery in Japan, though you’d never guess it was five years old in a blind tasting. The whisky was matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon casks and Ichiro’s own “chibidaru” casks, which are hogshead casks cut across the diameter to
produce a shorter, squatter quarter cask with new white oak heads that are wider than conventional barrel heads.
Japanese whisky always seemed to take a backseat to other whiskies, but no more. Japanese whiskies in general and Chichibu Malts in particular are now ranked among the best in the world. Having captured numerous prizes at spirit competitions during the last decade, including, in a wake-up call to Scottish distillers, “Best Single Malt” at the World Whisky Awards in 2012 (for a 25-year-old Yamazaki), Japanese whisky now has its sights set on the American market.
Japanese distillers have created balanced, smooth, and elegant whiskies by combining Scottish distillation tradition with Japanese craft. Their whiskies have become increasingly better and more nuanced and complex. The distillers create different flavor profiles by varying yeasts, levels of peat, distillation processes and perhaps most importantly, they use several types and sizes of casks, including the mizunara (Japanese oak) casks, which impart an incense, sandalwood note. Then too, they have become very good distillers, and Ichiro Akuto of Chichibu Distillery is one of the best.

 

ICHIRO’S Malt Chichibu The Peated 2016

 

  • Name: CHIRO’S Malt  Chichibu The Peated 2016
  • Company: Venture Whisky
  • Category: Single Malt Whisky
  • Content: 54.5% ABV 
  • Volume: 700ml 
  • Price: 21,000

Tasting Notes

Nose     –   Antiseptic, diesel, smoked ham hocks, fresh potato skins, stewed apples, currants, soy sauce, soot, apricots. An approachable nose.

Palate   –  Big hot alcohol hit for ‘only’ 54.5%abv. Paprika and chili’s. Soot, sump oil, toffee, nougat, lemon meringue pie. Water adds. salt, orange sherbet, Brazil nuts, bitter dark chocolate.

Finish  –  Iodine, soot, antiseptic, nougat and menthol.

Our Coments

Chichibu Ichiro’s Malt The Peated, thus new edition of ‘The Peated’ was released 2 years ago and
this times they’ve tweaked the formula a bit. The phenol level is higher (58.6ppm as opposed to 52ppm) and the bulk of the malt comes from an ex-bourbon wood with a top dressing of port pipe-matured whisky. Its very fruity and even better than the first version, which is quite an accomplishment, considering how stunning that one was. 6,700 bottles were released.
Three is the magic number. Three years of distillation. And in that time, Ichiro Akuto at Chichibu
has produced a whisky that surpasses drams that are far older. I’m an admirer of this distillery, as
some of you might already know, and am convinced that there’s something magic going on out there. I was very excited when this new whisky finally made it to the UK; but I don’t go naively into tastings with a fanboy hat on. The wares have to stand up to the test.

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