Google The New Japanese Sessions, Session Three, Chichibu

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

November 13, 2023



The New Japanese Sessions, Session Three, Chichibu

There's always been some tight relationships between La Maison du Whisky and Chichibu, not to mention other high-class Japanese operations. We can only applaud, what's more, the number of Chichibu in their new pre-holiday selections this year is just incredible, as you will see... Meanwhile, we're still hoping we'll soon try Chichibu Number 2… In any case, I believe we are going to taste more and more Japanese whiskies at little WF...



Chichibu 'Paris Edition 2023' (49.5%, OB, for LMDW, New Vibrations, 2,100 bottles)

Chichibu 'Paris Edition 2023' (49.5%, OB, for LMDW, New Vibrations, 2,100 bottles) Five stars
A tribute to Paris' most famous general stores, with five different labels, this one here being Le Bon Marché on the left bank (Rive Gauche). Now the whisky's always from the same vatting of nine casks. Colour: straw. Nose: chalky from the start, with a very slight hint of polish, then fresh mint, wood glue, green fruits, gooseberries, green apple, then a bit of fresh smoke and vanilla. A very slight medicinal side, with iodine and a bit of Tiger Balm. It's the freshness that is just perfect, as is the balance. Palate: much more powerful on the palate, with an almost aggressive attack, very herbaceous, almost salty, with cigar ash and lime. It's very tense, I really like it, it almost feels like a very great but very young sauvignon blanc, with the right amount of flint and limestone. A bit of watermelon rind, melon, fennel, pea pod, cucumber water... Finish: long, even saltier, clearly peaty, vegetal and lemony. The aftertaste is slightly mentholated, with also a little bit of mango. Comments: the whole is more complex than what this short note could express. Complex and pure at the same time. I find it quite magnificent, but yeah, that was expected.
SGP: 563- 90 points.

Chichibu 7 yo 2015/2023 (63.3%, OB, LMDW Selection, heavily peated, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #4701, 192 bottles)

Chichibu 7 yo 2015/2023 (63.3%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, heavily peated, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #4701, 192 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: very powerful, truly on mercurochrome and wet chalk, but at this alcohol degree, it can't burst with aromas. In fact, I'm not sure if Chichibu is filled at 63.5% vol., but if so, the Japanese angels haven't really been greedy over these seven years. With water: even more wet chalk, peelings from garden fruits, a lot of iodine, inhalations (eucalyptus), virgin wool, new sweater, tweed, plus some touches of palm heart. It's a bit slow to open up but it becomes magnificent. Palate (neat): hefty, salty, peppery, and on pear candies. Water is necessary. With water: much more immediate, on lemon juice, chalk, with a silver spoon side and, once again, some well-made sauvignon blanc. A lot of smoke but it remains elegant, all showing some perfect rectitude. Finish: long, a bit more tropical, with more citrus and especially a lot of ash. Comments: a perfect counterpoint to the Paris Edition, which was more complex while this 7-year-old is more on the ashes, a bit more monolithic. But we love it, of course.
SGP: 466 - 89 points.

Chichibu 9 yo 2014/2023 (61.9%, OB, LMDW Selection, 2ndt fill bourbon barrel, cask #3094, 177 bottles)

Chichibu 9 yo 2014/2023 (61.9%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, 2ndt fill bourbon barrel, cask #3094, 177 bottles) Five stars
Done with Propino barley. I had never heard of Propino barley, imagine! Let's see if the magic of second fills will work again this time. Colour: white wine. Nose: A wonderful tension right from the start, with immediately a bit of verbena and chartreuse, Bénédictine, small citrus fruits, vetiver, and honeysuckle, a bit of green curry, sorrel, and dill, green orange... It's as if this wonder was composed by a perfumer, from the house Hermès, for example (it's the green orange that does that). With water: it rounds out, the vanilla stands out, a bit of banana unveils itself, but it retains that ultra-precise side, with now added earthy and camphor notes. Palate (neat): explosively citric, one might say, even the numerous spices, hark back to citrus, especially the Timut or Szechuan peppers. That said, it remains a bit burning but it's only the alcohol. With water: a slight softening but the liveliness remains. Barley sugar and apricot jam bring roundness. Finish: long, more supple, on fruit salad, with mint leaves and pine honey. Banana in the background. Comments: a Chichibu that is quite tropical overall despite the fact that it's only a second fill cask. I find it excellent.
SGP: 651 - 90 points.

Chichibu 2014/2022 'Akatsuki' (63.4%, OB, LMDW, bars & restaurants exclusive, bourbon, cask #3405, 2023)

Chichibu 2014/2022 'Akatsuki' (63.4%, OB, LMDW, bars & restaurants exclusive, bourbon, cask #3405, 2023) Five stars
Concerto barley and long fermentations here (80 hours). It is unpeated. Akatsuki means dawn. You can go taste this little wonder at The Golden Promise bar by Salvatore, in Paris, but otherwise, it will be hard to find elsewhere, like its brother Tasogare. Colour: pale gold. Nose: there it is, of course, purely on barley, citrus, and all things from the limestone family. Calcite, flint, etc... But be careful with the high degree! With water: sublime development, very pure yet very complex. Sage, oregano, Thai basil, pink pepper, a bit of caraway, verbena (could that be a Chichibu specialty?), fresh rhubarb, guava, blood orange... It's immaculate. A little fresh barley and mint play in the background. Palate (neat): totally exotic, on mango and papaya, with just a bit of pepper, prairie honey, and clay. It bites a bit but again, it's the alcohol. With water: similar, over a beautiful exotic fruit salad drizzled with a bit of honey and sprinkled with some fresh mint. Finish: long, fresh, tropical but also on granny smith, with these little herbs that tickle you again later on, mint, dill, coriander, sage... Comments: formidable, we move up to an even higher category in my little system...
SGP: 661 - 91 points.

Chichibu 2014/2022 'Tasogare' (64.2%, OB, LMDW, bars & restaurants exclusive, peated bourbon, cask #3560, 2023)

Chichibu 2014/2022 'Tasogare' (64.2%, OB, LMDW, bars & restaurants exclusive, peated bourbon, cask #3560, 2023) Five stars
Made from Concerto barley too, but this one had been peated to 50ppm this time. Tasogare means 'twilight'. Let's see if this is the twilight of the gods. Colour: pale gold. Nose: cold ashes in a fireplace, or perhaps in a pipe, a garden fire (that's been banned for a long time), always wet chalk, clay, slate, iodine dye... and a lot of ethanol. As a result... With water: it doesn't change much, a bit of fresh tar, more somewhat acrid ashes, a feeling of fresh chlorophyll, then quite a bit of camphor and eucalyptus, finally several types of mint, peppery, icy, etc. Palate (neat): barbecued banana, green pepper, and a lot of lime. Ashes and bitter cocoa powder bring a certain astringency. It grows, it grows... With water: you could really call this exotic smoke, as if they had used dried banana peel and old bagasse. It works! Finish: long, livelier, and fresher, which always works very well. A very, very slight salty side, like in that other drink we adore and often mention, the manzanilla from Sanlúcar de Barrameda! There are even two or three little pink olives, those that are so sweet, you know... Comments: magnificent, just a little less philosophical than the dawn. It's true that I am becoming more of a morning person as time goes on...
SGP: 554 - 90 points.

Well, after this very superlative quintet (but we expected that), let's move on to the bizarre, if you please.

Chichibu 8 yo 2015/2023 (62.8%, OB, LMDW Selection, Japanese wine cask, cask #12508, 274 bottles)

Chichibu 8 yo 2015/2023 (62.8%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, Japanese wine cask, cask #12508, 274 bottles) Three stars and a half
The wine here is 'Koshu', a pink grape that's rather common in Japan and that, here, comes precisely from the Chichibu region as it seems. At least there is a geographical link; they didn't just import barrels from Sauterne, Barollo, or Saint-Jullien, or from the Cotes Roties (big kisses to our Scottish friends who still have a bit of progress to make in terms of wine spelling). Colour: gold. Nose: I couldn't recognise Koshu, but in any case, you can't say that this nose is very winey, although at such a degree, there isn't much that would come through anyway. Orange cake and white pepper, plus a bit of wood, let's say. With water: the balance is more fragile and changing than in the sumptuous and very coherent bourbon versions. A bit of cabbage, leek, tomato leaves, then clove, apple peel, fig leaves, fine lees... It's really not bad at all. Palate (neat): well it's very good, but this time the winey side comes out a bit, with very light sulphurous touches, grapefruit peel, a few grape seeds... But the alcohol remains the boss at these degrees. So... With water: sweet-peppery. Grenadine syrup and black pepper, pink berries, allspice, a slight fern side... Finish: long, herbaceous, spicy. A peony and clafoutis side then, cherry liqueur, then sweet bread dough. Comments: I am reassured, I expected much worse, much more dissonant from this amusing Winechibu.
SGP: 561 - 84 points.

One last one for the road…

Chichibu 6 yo 2016/2023 (63.1%, OB, LMDW Selection, second fill sherry hogshead, cask #6959, 289 bottles)

Chichibu 6 yo 2016/2023 (63.1%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, second fill sherry hogshead, cask #6959, 289 bottles) Four stars
Some Propino barley (first time I'm hearing about Propino barley – I'm joking) and some proper oloroso sherry. Colour: dark gold. Nose: the distillate fades slightly, which is normal, in favour of a sherry that is very much on cakes, dry rum, and fresh walnut, without any oxidative or meaty aspect. It remains very pure for the moment, but let's see what water will do to it. With water: it's a rather surgical sherry, precise, almost of watchmaker-like quality. It doesn't go off in all directions, it stays on the walnut cake, tobacco, bitter chocolate, and, indeed, the oloroso. Palate (neat): it seems very good on the palate, without dissonances, with rather bitter oranges, nuts, and a bit of leather and pepper. With water: a small umami side, but that might just be my mind playing tricks on me. More lemon than in other sherry-heavy whiskies, perhaps it's the distillate that holds. Finish: it's in the finish that it becomes more complex, with hops, polish, still green walnut, bitter oranges, little herbs, various and varied berries... Comments: excellent, if not quite in the same league as the great Chichibu ex-bourbon (or white oak etc.)
SGP: 462 - 87 points.


  By the way, the four very colorful 'New Vibrations' versions were created by the famous Tokyo designer artist Katsumi Komagata who mainly works with folded and layered cut paper. There's often this kind of 'art studio' feeling with La Maison du Whisky's own bottlings or own selections, with their catalogues as well. We say whisky's always better with art.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Japanese whiskies we've tasted so far







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