Thanks to Bananavanman for sharing this dram with me.
I got to ride on the Japanese whisky boat a tiny, tiny bit. Mostly due to awesome friends and dumb luck. If you haven’t, I’ll be the first to say the Amazing Japanese whiskies boat has sailed so far away it’s in whatever country you can imagine is the furthest away from you. Even if that country is landlocked.
Actually especially if it’s a landlocked country, because that boat ain’t coming back anytime soon. We’re talking arks on mountains here. Multiple of them.
Thus when Bananavanman offered me a sample of Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu IPA Cask Finish I snapped at the chance to try it.
What’s going on here? Why would I jump at the chance to try more Japanese whisky? Because Chichibu is the closest thing to that amazing whisky. When you see people talk about the Cards or older Yamazaki, that leads into Chichibu. Why? It’s made by the grandson of the man who founded Hanyu, Ichiro Akuto.
There you have it. A unicorn from the past, and it’s time to try it. Let’s see if this is worth it, shall we?
Cask Type: IPA Cask Finish
Amount of bottles released: 6700
Colour: 2.5Y 7/8
Nose: Cider, ginger tea, spice pear, orange, floral hops/violets
Lighter mineral and apple, spice, tannic, and spice all hit you off the start. Water/time brings out the beer hoppiness, but it’s more of a floral than a dank type of hoppy flavour.
So we have a spicey, fruity, tart and balanced whisky so far. Going well. Beer finished whisky can take on some rank notes if you’re not careful, and this does not have that issue.
Taste: Apple pie, black licorice, cereal, vanilla yogurt, orange Madeleine
Immediate well developed butter and cereal, spiced apple, sharper anise and some vanilla. Water again brings in some acidity, so if you’re into less sweet and more balanced, let this rest for a bit.
The complexity and mix of sweet and bitter/sour notes is impressive.
Finish: Cinnamon crisps, butterscotch, oak, hoppy floral, lemonade
Long. Very long. The quality of these whiskies is impressive. Makes me wish I was able to obtain any others without giving up my kidneys. And I tend to need those.
More similar notes to before, if a bit less complex than the nose or taste. Still bitter, more spice development, less sugar development here.
Conclusion: If you don’t like hoppy notes, you will not like this. My wife, for instance, does not enjoy any beer (save for sours that haven’t been hopped).
This grows on you. It’s a discussion on bitter flavours balanced with sweet. It needs a good amount of time to really open up.
As someone who personally hasn’t been wowed by beer finishes, leave it to Chichibu to find an amazing way to use them. The complexity, the bitterness, the sweetness, and the lovely grass notes. I could literally go on and on.
Sadly the finish doesn’t hold up quite to hit that legendary level. I still prefer the Peated 2011 over this one, however if this is a regular release from Chichibu then it’d be worth picking up each time.
World Whisky review #408, Japan review #45, Whisky Network review #2076