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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

April 27, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Ichiro’s Many Malts
Chichibu seems to be causing quite a stir these days, and rightly so in my view. While I don’t always enjoy the many and varied wood/maturation types that they deploy over there, the distillate is never short of impeccable and they’re masters of transparency in all that they do. Let’s try a few examples, plus one or two bonus drams today - if you please. First up though, an aperitif...


Ichiro’s Malt And Grain World Blended Whisky (58.8%, OB for Liquorland Kimura, Virgin French Oak, cask #7255, 310 bottles)

Ichiro’s Malt And Grain World Blended Whisky (58.8%, OB for Liquorland Kimura, Virgin French Oak, cask #7255, 310 bottles)
Not a 100% Japanese native but more of a mongrel of various nations it seems. Colour: gold. Nose: hot white pepper, varnish and wood glue at first. Big, clean, modern, spicy oakiness indeed. Lots of coconut sweetness, bubblegum, warm sawdust and pencil shavings. The kind of profile that can be exhausting very quickly but the sweetness errs on the side of natural here which helps things along nicely. Develops some nice notes of moss, ferns, lemon icing and coconut milk. With water: really pure sawdust now. Also some more mossy notes, gravel, wood char and a new packet of yellow dusting cloths. Mouth: here it’s a tad more challenging. The oak is rather punchy and aggressive, takes a few seconds to simmer down. Then there’s hot plastic, boiled lime sweets, some mandarin peel and more of these sweet coconut notes, although there’s a tad more artifice to the sweetness this time. With water: cooking oil, trail mix, a hint of sugar syrup and plenty fresh, newly sawn oak! Finish: medium. All on suncream, condensed milk, a wee drop of mint julep and some more sugary cocktail syrups. Comments: Not my cup of thing I’m afraid. Too many splinters for my taste. Having said that, it’s a perfectly fine, high-octane blend and would no doubt make a very refreshing highball...
SGP: 841 - 78 points.



Chichibu 2011/2016 (62.4%, OB for USA, cask #1367, port pipe, 618 bottles)

Chichibu 2011/2016 (62.4%, OB for USA, cask #1367, port pipe, 618 bottles)
The barley variety for this one was called ‘Braemar’ apparently. Colour: light amber. Nose: prickly and peachy in equal measure. That is to say, rather peppery and hot while at the same displaying notes of peaches in syrup, rum ‘n’ raisin ice cream, strawberry wine, cloves and spiced custard. Also some unlikely things such as Tizer and Irn Bru mixed together (It’s been done, I promise), juicy fruit chewing gum and a suggestion of Greek Retsina wine. I find it rather charming. With water: more pine notes such as pine cones, precious hardwood saps, big, earthy, strong black teas and some darker fruits such as figs and prunes. Also gets leafier and more towards tobacco. Mouth: The first thing is that it’s reminiscent of grappa, remember, even in Japan, a pipe is a big cask and four years is still pretty young so the distillate is still a rather loud and boisterous toddler. But it’s already clean and fruity and bready so it works well. Some allusions to the raw barley, sourdough and crusty brown bread. But then also raspberry cordial, elderflower, mint leaf and prune juice. A strange character indeed! With water: really good now! Syrupy, sweet green tea, lemon cordial, fresh barley, a good young VSOP Cognac, sweet custard, lime leaf, tarragon, mint extract and tea tree oil. Also some hawthorn and wormwood. Finish: long, leafy, lots of bitter lemon, coal dust, fruit loop sweeties, some youthful white port and resurgent bready touch. Comments: A bit scattershot at times, but it pulls itself together with a splash of water and you can’t help but fall under its very entertaining spell. Now, full term in Port is another matter entirely from finishing or re-racking I suppose...
SGP: 661 - 87 points.



Chichibu 7 yo 2010/2018 (59.6%, OB, cask #2633, cream sherry hogshead, 285 bottles)

Chichibu 7 yo 2010/2018 (59.6%, OB, cask #2633, cream sherry hogshead, 285 bottles)
Also distilled from the Braemar barley varietal. You don’t see too many ex-cream sherry hoggies about, this should be interesting... Colour: amber. Nose: oh! But what’s this? Sweet raisins, sultanas, fig jam, mint leaf, pear syrup, hessian, herbal teas, wild strawberry, a sliver of pecan pie and some bitter chocolate! A superb nose. Lush, old school sherry richness and all these wee notes popping out all over the place. Add glace cherries, fruit loaf and sweet liquorice! With water: develops in a sort of ‘new world’ direction, that is to say: lots of breads, cereals, light spices and toasted seed notes. Some lemon peel too. Pure, clean and very lovely. I feel like water is effectively brushing away the sherry and bringing out the distillate - not unlike the helicopter-induced speed-excavation of the velociraptor skeleton at the beginning of Jurassic Park (we’ll watch it one day Serge, I promise!). Mouth: mocha, chilli infused hot chocolate, sweet cherry beer, star anise, limoncello, brown bread and lime cordial. Superb! With water: a very direct spicy/bready mix. Some residual raisins and sultanas, damp leaves, espresso and general red-tinged fruitiness. Finish: long, bready, getting rather meaty as well with notes of Bovril, game and then instant coffee and Brazil nuts. Linger, leather and earthy. Comments: very very good! This kind of cask at circa 10 years of age will really be quite something.
SGP: 671 - 88 points.



Chichibu 9 yo 2009/2018 (63.1%, OB, cask #2352, white wine cask, 245 bottles)

Chichibu 9 yo 2009/2018 (63.1%, OB, cask #2352, white wine cask, 245 bottles)
9 years old? Time is well and truly airborne it would appear. Also, this one was distilled from barley variety called ‘Tipple‘. Is that a Japanese offshoot of the ancient indigenous Scottish variety ‘Bevvy’ I wonder? Colour: deep gold. Nose: turbo charged mature Sauternes! Behind that there’s apricot conserve, baked apples, glazed pastries and Cinnamon Graham’s breakfast cereal. These various garden and orchard fruit notes increasingly manifest as liqueurs and syrups giving a very textural feel to the nose. Add to that some sultanas, a little fig, tobacco leaf and perhaps a wee touch of melon too. With water: eases into itself perfectly with water developing notes of satsuma, kumquat, sweet muscat and various pollens and wildflowers. Mouth: the alcohol is indeed rather feisty but the sweetness and richness of the fruits is also very ‘present’. Spiced fruit chutney, toffee apples, plum sauce, five spice, some kind of exotic fruit-infused mead and more wee notes of cinnamon, all spice and crystallised orange peel. There’s an increasing earthiness as well and even a tiny glimmer of rancio. With water: Pow! really comes into its own with water. Orange blossom, rosewater, incense, mandarin liqueur, poppy seeds, various fruit jams and heather honey. Finish: long, lightly sappy, full of warming wood spices, some hops, red liquorice, eucalyptus and menthol tobacco. Still a beautiful, lingering natural sweetness. Comments: I’d be intrigued to know the kind of white wine cask this was matured in. That aside, however, this is a terrific wee Chichibu: sweet, savoury, succulent, textural and complex. But water is pretty essential I’d say.
SGP: 751 - 90 points.



And now for something slightly similar...  


Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries + Peated (61.3%, OB, bottled 2018, 129 bottles)

Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries + Peated (61.3%, OB, bottled 2018, 129 bottles)
A vatting of regular Chichibu, peated Chichibu and aroun 5% Hanyu, so I’m told. Colour: white wine. Nose: peated malt sitting in malt bins is the initial impression, which means we’re pretty close to the raw ingredients. It’s gets better still with these notes of lemon barley water, oily sheep wool, lanolin, brine, ink and new leather. There’s also suggestions of goats cheese rolled in ash, straw, herbal tea and pure sea salt. Purity is very much the watchword so far. With water: gets very ‘fermenty’ with water. Towards sourdough, active yeast, lemon juice, whelks and other raw shellfish notes. Notes of wet kelp and rope as well. Mouth: big, rather immense and very chiselled stuff. We’re getting towards this blade-like, pin sharp profile more akin to a good Caol Ila. Only here there’s also an added layer of farmy funk that drifts in after a while. Some beach pebbles, mechanical oils, engine grease and dried seaweed in strong ramen broth (man I really want some ramen now, dammit!) With water: pure kiln smoke, soot, kippers and peppered mackerel. Strong soy sauce and miso (ramen again!), more ashy notes and a rather bright lemony aspect. Finish: long and throwing up more mineral, pebbley notes. Some green olives, preserve lemons, smoky grist and light tarriness. Comments: Like so many of these bottlings from the Chichibu ‘stable’ I find this one a tad all over the place in some ways but not in a negative way. This to and fro between cask and spirit - or in this case peat and malt - is often adding complexity, charm and entertainment to the proceedings. I suspect, over the next decade, we’ll start to see Chichibu itself settle down a little in style and start to emerge as something really special and idiosyncratic with a more assertive distillery character. I know this is a blended malt, but it’s the Chichibu component that really sings loudest and most beautifully.
SGP: 475 - 88 points.



Let’s finish with a cheeky wee Hanyu.  


Hanyu The Joker ‘Multivintage’ (57.7%, OB ‘Card Series’, 3690 bottles)

Hanyu The Joker ‘Multivintage’ (57.7%, OB ‘Card Series’, 3690 bottles)
A vatting of vintages from 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991 and 2000 from a variety of cask types. Colour: light amber. Nose: certainly an older whisky profile after all these youngsters. It’s also what I’d term a more classical Japanese style. That is to say hot paprika, polished hardwoods, firecrackers, pot pourri, exotic teas, light soy sauce, meat stocks, sandalwood and hints of old medicines. With water: gets fatty, oilier, sootier, more towards mushrooms, leaf mulch, butterbean paste and damp tobacco leaf. A slight grubbiness emerges. Mouth: slightly mushroomy and rather earthy with bitter chocolate, black tea, herbal extracts, soot, lime leaf, mild curry powder and things like black pepper, truffle and graphite oil. It’s very good but a tad tough, which is something that I find with most Hanyus. With water: more wood spices, caraway, fruity chilli, paprika, leather, strong black tea, five spice, star anise and bitter herbal extracts like Unicum. Some gingerbread, horseradish and cumin. Finish: good length although not the longest. Towards dried tropical fruit chunks such as mango and papaya as well as red fruit teas, lime cordial, wood shavings, light tar extracts and more herbal, menthol, medical touches. Comments: I find these Hanyus a tad frustrating. There are aspects which are excellent such as the complexity and depth of flavour. But they can also tend towards being too hot, too extractive and too much hard work. It’s funny how far away we are from the blended malt and yet we’re in the same ball park as far as quality is concerned if you ask me.
SGP: 462 - 88 points.



Many thanks to Mr Phil of Dornoch Hotel Bar Castle Distillery!  









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