Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu White Wine Cask Exclusively Bottled for Chichibu Whisk(e)y Matsuri 2019

[63.1%・9 Years Old・Distilled in 2009・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Cask No. 2352・Single Cask Release of 245 Bottles]

Nose:

The cask gives a densely sweet presence on the nose, some sultana and apple vinegar note faring a tad sharp. Hint of smoked bacon along with oak in time.

Palate & Finish:

Bursting with energy with the floral honey driving a lot of sultana. The delivery grows malty then just a wee bit sour, with maple syrup and a brush of apple vinegar.

Nutty and buttery in the finish, some dried grapes to go with the oak tannins.

Thoughts:

A relatively long white wine cask maturation is perhaps too experimental, the spirit is perhaps a tad burdened by the acidic element of the cask, an inherent risk taken in order to push the maturation for that long.

✓ [Recommended if you like the distillery/style]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Chichibu Whisk(e)y Matsuri 2019 Single Cask World Blended Whisky

[58.4%・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Cask No. 5298・Single Cask Release of 244 Bottles]

Nose:

German caramel biscuits and vanilla fudge, some citrus flavoured pastries, some passion fruit pulp as the dram lets out its grainy side in time.

Palate & Finish:

Quite intensely sweet to the taste, caramel crystals and caramelised popcorn, though it does carry lighter notes with plums and peaches drizzled with honey and sprinkled with shaved wood.

A tad spicy and mildly sweet in the finish.

Thoughts:

The educated guess is that the juice is fairly young and quite a substantial ratio of imported grain is in play. Despite the genre though the dram has been curated to having a fresh and poised profile.

The better Matsuri release this year in my opinion and close to scoring a star..

[Recommended if you like the distillery/style]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Single Cask Exclusively Bottled for Modern Malt Whisky Market 2017

[60.2%・Distilled in 2011・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Cask No. 1320・Single Cask Release of 223 Bottles]

Nose:

Substantially tropical with pineapples and apricots generously coming through, plenty of honey to go with splashes of pepper, quite pleasing indeed.

Palate & Finish:

A transcending tropical sweetness under the immense strength. Wondrously fruity with some sweet soy bean note layered with thin wax to even put the sweetness.

A pleasing creamed honey finish.

Thoughts:

Brilliantly extracting some vibrant tropical notes whilst managing to keep the spirit in check, the “Day” is really pleasing indeed and in my opinion it sets a solid benchmark for a young new world distillery doing a bourbon cask expression. Close to scoring two stars..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Whisky Magazine Japan Spirit Safe Karuizawa 19 Years

[60.8%・19 Years Old・Distilled in 1991・Bottled in 2010・Whisky Magazine Japan Bottling for Oxfam・Cask No. 3206・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

A substantially malty number, quite obviously alcoholic with some underlying notes of toffee, cereal, vanilla biscuits and burnt butter.

Palate & Finish:

The dough-y biscuity note seems to be the theme of the dram.  The spirit is untamed with oily honey flowing through hot spices, the malty characters continue to ooze out.

The spices continue to hiss like dying fireworks, still remarkably malty.

Thoughts:

A big dram that packs some serious hotness..

I suppose this is all for charity..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Yoichi 余市 Manzanilla Wood Finish

[48.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 4,000 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is compellingly rich, buttery and meaty toffee through and through and in time the equally rich malt begin to unfold.

Palate & Finish:

The Manzanilla finish lends a mellow and sweet side to things, with smooth honey leading and accompanied by mandarin peels, clean peat drifts in and out along traces of chocolate mud cake.

Light peat infused in fruity syrup in the finish, kanjuku raisins..

Thoughts:

A politely tasty dram. I appreciate that the wood finish is not trying to do too much and this is still reassuringly a Yoichi all things considered..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Nikka Single Cask Malt Whisky (Yoichi 余市 Cask No. 400600)

[62.0%・15 Years Old・Distilled in 1992・Bottled in 2007・Official Bottling・Cask No. 400600・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

A stately and proper sense of oak.  The peat combines well with the oak; tobacco leaves, dried porcini and wet sand with a spray of brine.

Palate & Finish:

A deep and sharp stroke of acidic fruits together with a gentler underlying dose of brown sugar syrup and marzipan. The oak tannins are at work amidst the intense sweetness.

A firm and spicy burn that transitions into a much gentler, creamy finish of piccolo and some lingering iodine..

Thoughts:

Stylistically quite like the virgin oak cask bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society a few years ago, but that cask was exceptional.  Still, another solid virgin oak cask by the distillery..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Blackadder Four Years Old Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu (Cask No. 2862)

[63.0%・4 Years Old・Distilled in 2013・Bottled in 2018・Blackadder Bottling・Cask No. 2862・Single Cask Release of 237 Bottles]

Nose:

A thick woodiness grips the attention with plenty of leather. Some saltiness from the oak leaks into the spirit. Robust barley oozing out and in time more of that caramelised char surfaces as well..

Palate & Finish:

Big bold vanilla thickness with a generous dose of strawberries simmered in brown sugar, quite wonderfully kept together by the lovely Christmas spices.

Lovely finish with tannins hugging the syrupy fruits.

Thoughts:

A gentle giant, at 63% this is perhaps one of the politest and pleasing virgin oak casks I have come across.

A Chichibu that broke the ceiling..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Asta Morris Chichibu (Cask No. 1552)

[60.9%・6 Years Old・Distilled in 2011・Bottled in 2018・Asta Morris Bottling・Cask No. 1552・Single Cask Release of  207 Bottles]

Nose:

Quite citrus on the nose, more so than how I remember the first batch fared. Spirit and a hint of copper move in as in time the dram boosts a buttery note; some fruits also appear but on the shy side.

Palate & Finish:

Green fruits with a spike of citrus followed by an underlying custard note of coconut, pandan and nuts rising through during the mid-palate. Toasted malt becoming increasingly evident.

An even follow through of nuts and creaminess with some lime twists also in the mix.

Thoughts:

Oh wow, the first edition was a revelation but what an interesting, almost experimental profile for Asta Morris’ sophomore Chichibu release, such a subtropical number!

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Chichibu The Single Cask Floor Malted (Cask No. 1774)

[63.3%・6 Years Old・Distilled in 2012・Bottled in 2018・Original Bottling・Cask No. 1774・Single Cask Release of 182 Bottles]

Nose:

First impression of banana oil alongside the raw strength of the spirit, the nose is creamy and immensely powerful, with ample of pepper and a vague aromatic sense of wild floral note carrying the natural malt fragrance.

Palate & Finish:

Arrives on a great stroke, generous dosage of floral honey along with this certain biscuit-y chewiness as the white fruits sit prettily atop.  Citrus and honey pouring out to chime along with some green plums.

The spirit-y notes fizzle off to reveal a genuine mellow sweetness that carries with it just a hint of citrus.

Thoughts:

I think in general the Chichibu new make pairs well with Bourbon barrels but this floor malted wizardry is just sensational, it adds this certain genuineness to the spirit, an honest sweetness if you will..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Fuji Gotemba Distiller’s Select 2016

[48.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Peppery and still quite new make-y, floral car fragrance with grain and char coming on.

Palate & Finish:

Somewhat new make spirit orientated, but it settles down for notes of lemon with brown sugar, chocolate dust and Italian herbs.

Rounded and gentle with some dried fruits.

Thoughts:

A mild dram that arguably got betrayed by the nose.

-Nicholas