Dram Review: Hakushu Sherry Cask Bottled in 2012

[48.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2012・Original Bottling・Limited Release of 4300 Bottles]

Nose:

Sticky figs and prunes prove captivating, roasted almonds, espresso and tannins smoothed over by the buttery leather.

Palate & Finish:

Liquor cured oranges bursting through with the bright but creamy Sherry influence, ample of wood and leather as well, hitting you right at the spot.

Dark chocolate, leather and tannins just stay on and on and a little longer still.

Thoughts:

Always revisit a dram you enjoyed, it’s been a good few years since I have had a Sherried Hakushu, and truly it gets me just how I like it.

I know I know, no one really cracks a new bottle open anymore but if you get a chance to order a dram do it, sometimes it’s been so long you forget what it’s like to be treated.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: ePower Chichibu Aged 6 Years IPA Cask Finish

[60.1%・6 Years Old・Distilled in 2011・Bottled in 2017・ePower Bottling・Cask No. 4662・Single Cask Release of 249 Bottles]

Nose:

Fascinating, aged lemon peels churned with gooey vanilla paste, orange sherbet and cotton candy on a flirty floral setting.

Palate & Finish:

Orange and grapefruit sherbet on the palate dressed with some Chinese style dried tangerine peels to give that exotic and intriguing bitterness. Some banana jam as well to mellow things out.

Retains the citrus and the oak spices in the finish.

Thoughts:

I genuinely love Chichibu’s IPA cask finished casks, such fun profile that compliments the rich Chichibu spirit so well.

I distinctively remember thinking it’s honestly like nothing I have ever had before, and not in that sense of foreboding you get with new world whiskies sometimes but that sense of just pure excitement instead.

And that’s the joy of the Chichibu IPA cask for me.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: SMWS 119.13 Yamazaki 山崎 “Fathoms Deep”

[60.2%・11 Years Old・Distilled in 2003 ・ Bottled in 2014 ・SMWS Bottling・Single Cask Release of 149 Bottles]

Nose:

Bold brushes of wood varnish and buttery toffee. Cloves and butterfly cookies with orange essence oil appearing late together with white peaches and popcorn seasoned with a knob of burnt butter.

Palate & Finish:

Rich flowing vanilla with the Yamazaki soft fruits brilliantly blended in, the oak tingles with an added touch of citrus.

Sweetened whipped cream and English toffee linger on as the softness of peaches slowly peels off.

Thoughts:

At first the strength is a bit intimidating and I would have preferred this being bottled when the cask is a bit tamer, but on the palate it is a rather well done Yamazaki aged in a first full Bourbon barrel, they just seem to be able to get it right even if it isn’t quite ready just yet..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu The Game (6th Edition)

[61.2%・Distilled in 1988・Bottled in 2014・Ichiro’s Malt & Shinanoya Bottling・Cask No. 192・ Limited Release of 471 Bottles]

Nose:

Mizunara wood with a slightly acidic tone, pine wood and hazelnuts integrates nicely with the malt to form a foundation that later on releases notes of beeswax and warm tea infused with lemon and honey, the wood becomes more grounded and expressive in time.

Palate & Finish:

Citrus and lemon with quite a splash of pepper over golden honey as spices and oak come on. The oily spirit carries this fermented rice note much like sake.

A mild finish that steadies on with honey and floral notes as the malt and wood slowly take over.

Thoughts:

Composed and sophisticated aromas on the nose but the palate doesn’t quite capture the magic.

A missing puzzle perhaps (pun intended)?

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Whisk(e)y Matsuri 2020 Chichibu 9 Years Old (Cask No. 972)

[61.6%・9 Years Old・Distilled in 2010・ Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling・Cask No. 972・Single Cask of 215 Bottles]

Nose:

Fruit punch, candied strawberries and a wild floral note, but also slightly metallic and rather spirit driven.

Palate & Finish:

Ginger syrup with a whole heap of aggressive spices, quite a prominent malt spirit presence, with some background notes of sticky strawberries, sugar cured watermelon slices and wee peanut brittle, the ginger spices continue on to impale the tastebuds.

Chewier and spicier in the finish.

Thoughts:

You would have thought the dram would have at least mellowed out a bit after 9 years but it is just too raw and spicy for another episode of the king’s new clothes I’m afraid..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu 神田 Kanda Bartender’s Choice 2013

[60.9%・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2013・13 Years Old ・Ichiro’s Malt Bottling・Cask No. 959・Single Cask Release of 303 Bottles]

Nose:

Mildly earthy with late harvest grapes, deep floral notes dispersing with elegance along with a suggestion of smoke and ash, brush of umami note developing in time.

Palate & Finish:

A concentrated sweetness from the grapes and seasoned with sea salt, a grounded brush of malt and vanilla with a shortbread biscuit note giving a chewiness and leading to the dram’s floral side.

A mild but elongated acidity from the grapes amidst the extensive sweetness with a warming, malty aftertaste.

Thoughts:

I believe this is a vatting of hogsheads finished in a Cognac cask.

The wee suggestion of earthiness really elevates the whisky, and that balance of sweetness and acidity from the grapes is simply mesmerising.

This dram is special.

☆ ☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu The Single Cask Peated (Cask No. 2077)

[61.8%・Distilled in 2012・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Cask No. 2077・Single Cask Release of 356 Bottles]

Nose:

Metallic and peaty, seaweed and brine painting a rustic scene, ocean waves rushing towards a bon fire built on wet sand to create a salty and ashy vibe, followed by notes of green fruits and cigarette smoke.

Palate & Finish:

Syrupy sweet with a thrilling immersion of peat and spices with pepper and sichimi and later on seaweed and brine. Only afterwards does a follow through of ripe fruits come on.

The peat continues strong into the finish with a brush of espresso.

Thoughts:

Such saltiness in a dram, powerful and relentless, and depending on your preference it may be considered exhilarating.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Malt Dream Cask for Cask and Still

[61.8%・Distilled in 2009・Bottled in 2016・ 7 Years Old・Official Bottling・Cask No. MDC541・Single Cask Release of 193 Bottles]

Nose:

Rich vanilla from the get going but other than that a bit on the shy side initially but turns out to be quite a spicy number despite the floral honey sweetness, a prominent cereal note develops in time.

Palate & Finish:

Honey and syrup intertwining with soft pears and pineapples as the spices build up.

Lemony and slightly malty with the honey stickiness making a come back in the finish.

Thoughts:

Aged in a 1st full Bourbon barrel from Maker’s Mark, intensely flavoured like a fever dream.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Chibadaru Single Cask (Cask No. 286)

[61.9%・Distilled in 2009・Bottled in 2013・ 3 Years Old・Official Bottling・Cask No. 286・Single Cask Release of 160 Bottles]

Nose:

Spirit driven with notes of sour plums, lemon custard, green malt, matchsticks and honeyed nougat.

Palate & Finish:

Bold juicy delivery of honey, raspberry gelato and cherry marmalade with a sharp edge. It’s oily also with a rice porridge like sweetness along with an immense spiciness.

Malted biscuits dusted with chocolate powder, the spirit and barley sugar still bode heavy.

Thoughts:

One of the earlier Chichibu Chibadaru expressions and it really shows, feels very young and feisty but already showing a heap of signature flavour characters.

✓ [Recommended if you like the distillery/style]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Peated (Cask No. 2088)

[63.2%・Distilled in 2012・Bottled in 2017・ 5 Years Old・Official Bottling・Cask No. 2088・Single Cask Release of 225 Bottles]

Nose:

Smoked leg ham and chimney soot, wee tropical with the spirit giving out a peanut butter creaminess.

Palate & Finish:

Rather sweet and gooey to the taste, watermelon jelly and syrupy tropical fruits followed by an immensely peated phenomenon with an earthy undertone, astoundingly substantial.

Charred toast and vanilla sugar to round off the experience.

Thoughts:

Remember circa 2012 or 2014 when the Peated was an exciting indie darling?

This one feels like a déjà vu, but more matured and therefore better.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas