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 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 Hanyu The Game (1st Edition)

[61.2%・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2009 ・Ichiro’s Malt Bottling・Limited Release of 476 Bottles]

Nose:

Gooey vanilla custard tarts, oak and pepper also on show with a toasty base note.

Palate & Finish:

French vanilla grain and lemon butter crêpes serve with pear purée, the thick creaminess comes and later on leads to and a digestive biscuit note.

Slightly lemony with a hint of the burnt sugary layer from a Portuguese tart.

Thoughts:

A fun and accommodatingly lovely albeit not quite composed dram from a dead distillery, perhaps a prototype exhibiting what eventually would become known in Chichibu whiskies? Don’t think too hard about all the accolades surrounding Hanyu or the Game, just put on Peter Bjorn and John and have fun with it..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu 2000 (Cask No. 531)

[58.5%・13-14 Years Old・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2014・Ichiro’s Malt Bottling・Cask No. 531・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

The dram starts off with a white grape acidity that’s rather prominent, hint of Sauternes with a slight spirit sharpness at first that opens up to some lovely jammy aromas in time. The Weetbix-esque malt sinks into a certain earthiness and seamlessly brings out a brush of syrupy sweetness within new oak.

Palate & Finish:

Malt and grapes arriving in quite an intense manner, citrus, honey and cereal overlaid with a fine layer of cucumber freshness. A tease of acidity from the grapes as a milder dose of oak runs underneath.

Gentle finish stretching those malty and earthy tones, spearmint with some traces of cured bacon for some reasons, crisp white grapes resurfacing much later on..

Thoughts:

A Cognac cask finish would mostly be perceived as being rather experimental, and as far as exotic casks go this is not as remarkable as some of Hanyu’s finest works. Still, I found myself very much enjoying the dram, the finishing particularly fascinates..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu 1991 (Cask No. 1386)

[54.1%・22-23 Years Old・Distilled in 1991・Bottled in 2014・Ichiro’s Malt Bottling・Cask No. 1386・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

Madeira fills the nose entirely, the resemblance is just uncanny.  Well tuned aged citrus oozes out of the slightly meaty presence.  The creamy undertone works well with lush notes of dark chocolate, toffee and syrup soaked strawberries.

Palate & Finish:
Such a stupendous burst of syrupy juiciness on the front palate, exciting with this spirit-y note that draws some resemblance of sake.  The Madeira influence is well illustrated through the malt, Seville oranges well displayed with the underlying toasted barley politely reaches out.

Well finished with hints of menthol and dark chocolate fudge cake.

Thoughts:

Perhaps one of the better high ABV Madeira cask finished whiskies I have had.. instinct satisfying exotica..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: The 10th Whisky Live Japan Anniversary Bottling Hanyu (Cask No. 369)

[57.3%・18 Years Old・Distilled in 1991・Bottled in 2009・Whisky Live Japan Bottling・Cask No. 369・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

Loads of raisins and prunes with the dark fruits driving the creaminess, crème brûlée with some earthy notes. Nutty, walnuts and peanut butter with a faint aroma of smoked ham.

Palate & Finish:

Such a dark setting, rich raisins influence with a bright acidity from dark fruits.  Excellent oily mouthfeel.  Leather and dark chocolate with some very sweet prunes coming out on the mid-palate. Chocolate mud cake and some black licorice in time with just a fine hint of smoke raising its presence gradually.

A very long finish of buttery toffee, traces of smoke, cherries, ripe fruits and malt.

Thoughts:

Ah, what an exhilarating dram, not a high 2 stars but when you think Hanyu, this is what you hope for.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Number One Drinks Company Hanyu 1991 Single Cask (Cask No. 370)

[57.3%・18 Years Old・Distilled in 1991・Bottled in 2009・Number One Drinks Company Bottling・Cask No. 370・Single Cask Release of 361 Bottles]

Nose:

The wood is perhaps emitting too much of its presence, fair amount of sandalwood and oak before the lavishly fragrant aromas of ripen apricots and dark honey come through. A touch of mirin in time with the authentic sweetness of the fermented rice gracefully unfolds, quite mesmerising really..

Palate & Finish:

A dense delivery with umeshu soaked plums, guava, icing sugar, caramel cubes and cured sakura at first, it is also quite spicy before a lace of smoke gradually breaks past the sweetness.  The follow through is rewarding and fragrant as the wood assert itself with its fair bitterness to even out the immense sweetness.

The intense syrupy delivery eventually fades in the finish, all but leaving hints of oak, tobacco and pepper.

Thoughts:

A dense number that is not exactly flawless especially with how woody this is.  But if you are a fan, this is a breathtaking dram..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: SMWS Hanyu 131.2 “Magic Carpet in a Sweetie Shop”

[55.1%・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2014・13 Years Old・SMWS Bottling・Single Cask Release of 646 Bottles]

Nose:

Incredibly syrupy with the toffee treacle.  Plenty of aged leather with a hint of candied ginger but the overall tone leans towards the heaviness as gifted by a thick syrupy cask.  There is a rich waxiness amidst the prominent spices as a delicate brush of blackcurrant sweetness is released from the background, bringing along other dark fruits.  There is  a hint of caramelized popcorn that surfaces in time.

Palate & Finish:

Oh the sweetness, intensely rich with the buttery toffee, astoundingly thick with the blackcurrant jam, raisins and five spices, dark berry coulis and dark chocolate block all coming together.  The delivery grows even heavier with a richer assertion of dried fruits, satisfaction ensues..

The finishing is mellow with only traces of dark fruits and strawberry chewing gum remaining.  Quite a juxtaposition for a whisky which such a heavy premise, something comforting after a breathtaking experience.

Thoughts:

Quality 1st fill Sherry butts can seem a bit homogeneous at times but once in a while a marvelous cask comes along and throws a curve ball that stuns the crowd.  This is one of those instances..

☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: The Ichiro’s Malt Aged 15 Years The Final Vintage of Hanyu

[46.5%・15 Years Old・Bottled in 2015・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 3,710 Bottles]

Nose:

A whisky named the final vintage of Hanyu is always going to be a collector’s item well sought after, even though it might not be the Hanyu you hope for.Toasted cereal and barbecue salt on the nose with an underlying layer of vanilla grain. Banana toffee surfaces with a hint of sandalwood.

Palate & Finish:

Pineapple flavoured gummy bears on the palate. There is a coating custard note as the Japanese grape jelly and sweet plum notes sip out.

A hint of roasted coffee beans that gradually eased out in the finish. A delicate drop with the spices just lightly scattered.

Nicholas