Google A quick visit to Japan

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

September 25, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
A quick visit to Japan
No time for prevarication today, let's just attack a small pile of various Japanese whiskies which have accumulated here at Whiskyfun Fife HQ (I know, who thought such an outpost would ever exist?)


Japanese Blended Whisky No.1 21 Year Old 'Batch 5' (47.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2018, 3257 bottles)Japanese Blended Whisky No.1 21 Year Old 'Batch 5' (47.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2018, 3257 bottles)

Japanese Blended Whisky No.1 21 Year Old 'Batch 5' (47.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2018, 3257 bottles)
So, is this Japanese, or is this 'Japanese'? Colour: gold. Nose: I have to say, this is rather excellent with a lot of creamy coconut and spiced fudge up front. Some aged orange peel, chai tea, bergamot, wintergreen and aniseed. You do feel the grain component but it's very well integrated and the whole does indeed speak with a Japanese accent. Mouth: this impression of delicate spiced teas, hardwood resins, dried herbs, bergamot and winter spices continues on the palate. Some more coconut and rum-like sweetness, and then wee touches of caramelised banana and dried exotic fruit pieces. In fact it becomes rather rum like with time. Finish: medium, sappy, herbal, towards eucalyptus and tea tree oil with more hardwood resins and strong brewed teas. Comments: An excellent blend that does retain a strong feeling of 'Japan' about it. I think the strength is also a key asset here.

SGP: 652 - 85 points.



Chichibu London Edition 2020 (53.5%, OB, bourbon, 1736 bottles)

Chichibu London Edition 2020 (53.5%, OB, bourbon, 1736 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: fresh, youthful, modern, excellent malt whisky with a lot of clear detail from the raw materials on display. Freshly malted barley, bailed straw, rice cakes and even wee hints of turmeric and saffron. There's this tension between dusty and fresh which I find quite captivating. With water: fresher still, greener, on chlorophyl, grapefruit, crushed oatcakes and touches of cider apple. Mouth: excellent arrival, weighty and even with slightly medicinal aspects coming through such as herbal mouthwash, antiseptic and crushed aspirin. You feel there's some peated components at work here. A light salinity, citrus fruit acids and white flowers. With water: mentholated and becoming almost a little waxy with some green herbs, aniseed, green apple and slightly riper orchard fruit notes. Finish: medium, lightly peppery, still plenty raw barley flavours, malt extract, IPA and breakfast cereals. Comments: Chichibu is at its best from this type of wood I think.
SGP: 562 - 88 points.



Chichibu 2012/2019 (62%, OB for Black Rock bar & Selfridges, cask #2074, 2nd refill Hogshead ex-Hanyu then ex-Chichibu, 154 bottles)

Chichibu 2012/2019 (62%, OB for Black Rock bar & Selfridges, cask #2074, 2nd refill Hogshead ex-Hanyu then ex-Chichibu, 154 bottles)
Quite cool to know the detailed history of the cask's prior fillings I think. Colour: pale gold. Nose: there's a particular, highly aromatic and narrow spice quality about this which feels like it comes from hotter climate maturation in refill wood, I really love this style. Wood resins, juicy fruit chewing gum, exotic fruit teas, crystallised citrus peels, eucalyptus and menthol rolling tobacco. Quiet a precise and aromatic nose. With water: develops notes of shoe leather, dried flowers, caraway and dried mango. Also an impression of pumpernickel bread and bitter ales. Mouth: remarkably easy despite the strength, dangerous in other words! Wonderfully soft exotic fruits, wood spices, hardwood resins, herbal teas, fruit salad juices, tea tree oils and sandalwood. In time becoming waxier, more intricately spicy and fatter. With water: wow! Opens up magnificently now, incorporating medicines, waxes, putty, herbal extracts, cocktail bitters and menthol qualities. Amazing complexity with water. Finish: long, on aniseed, old herbal liqueurs, wintergreen, wormwood and bergamot. Persistently complex and thrilling. Comments: I had it at a sold 90 but water comfortably propelled it higher. I love that menthol / medicinal profile that emerges with water. I also like that it has something of old school Japanese whiskies about it that sits perfectly alongside these nicely modern beery and bready aspects. A great cask!
SGP: 662 - 91 points.



Chichibu 2013/2020 (62.1%, OB for Sskaya at Pan-Technicon, cask #2661, 1st fill barrel, 100 bottles) 
Chichibu 2013/2020 (62.1%, OB for Sskaya at Pan-Technicon, cask #2661, 1st fill barrel, 100 bottles)

Chichibu 2013/2020 (62.1%, OB for Sskaya at Pan-Technicon, cask #2661, 1st fill barrel, 100 bottles)
Anther rather rare and cool bottling exclusive to this elegant wee Sake and Japanese whisky bar that you can find located within this larger Japanese / Scandi themed department store/cafe in London. Quite a mouthful I think you'll agree, but the bar is certainly worth popping your head into if you're passing. Oh, and what's more, this one is peated. Colour: pale gold. Nose: peated, but elegantly so, a rather scented aroma that incorporates sandalwood, incense, smoked teas and earthier tones such as dried mushrooms and dried seaweed. I'm also finding an old school coconut and dried exotic fruit mix which I find rather gorgeous. With water: creamier and really focussing now on scented woods, smoked teas, dried herbs and rather ethereal wee medicinal touches. Totally brilliant nose if you ask me. Mouth: even at such a high ABV this one is quite silky upon arrival, sharper notes of citrus peels, salt-cured fish, miso, herbal infusions and Maggi liquid seasoning - soy sauce also. This high level, concentrated and umami style of peat that is pretty intense and wonderful. With water: becomes extremely intricate and complex now. A slightly crisper edge to the peat smoke, many crystallised citrus fruits, more dried herbal notes - almost like umami paste and herbal broths infusing - aniseed and slightly weightier notes of camphor and hessian that nod more towards some Scottish styles in fact. Finish: long, wonderfully concentrated and rich peat smoke, herbs, exotic hardwood resins, tea tree oils and herbal extracts. Comments: An outstanding wee Chichibu - the equal of cask #2074. I wonder if there wasn't a bit of hot climate maturation at work here too, there's a strong feeling of concentration about the whole thing, while globally it remains also very balanced and cohesive.
SGP: 575 - 91 points.



Miyagikyo 2003/2014 (62%, OB, cask #121902, sherry)

Miyagikyo 2003/2014 (62%, OB, cask #121902, sherry)
Not too sure I've got the order of this tasting correct here, hopefully this one won't struggle to make it over those two killer Chichibu… Colour: deep amber. Nose: I think we're safe. This is a big, sticky morass of stewed dark fruits, plum wine, soy sauce, leather and damp tobacco leaf. Thick, distinctly umami and with plenty bitter cocoa, espresso and mushroom powder. An outstanding sherry cask, judging from the nose. With water: aged teas, slated liquorice, umami paste, black olive bread and more soy sauce. A totally superb nose! Mouth: as often seems the case with these Japanese malts, they wear high ABVs very lightly. This one is immediately chewable with these wonderfully dense earthy and meaty tones, game meats, beef stock, mushroom powder, coffee grounds and bitter dark chocolate. Perhaps it leans a little too heavily on these gamey and meaty aspects? With water: cleaner and more balanced with water, these meaty qualities dial down considerably and we're left with some very dry earthy notes, strong espresso, very bitter chocolate, herbal bitters too and black pepper. I would say it's excellent but feels almost too extreme on the palate. Finish: long, leathery, earthy, slightly minty and towards bitter herbal extracts, more cocoa and more leather and soy sauce. Comments: A total beast, at times the nose approaches 92 point material, but the palate feels a tad too extreme in my book. Lovers of these Japanese sherry bombs would no doubt fire their grandmothers into the heart of the sun to acquire a bottle though.
SGP: 472 - 88 points.



Big thanks to Timo and KC!









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