We’ve shared tasting notes on quite a few Japanese drops of liquid gold but not one from this Japanese distillery that many of you may never have heard of. The Ichiro’s Malt brand is produced by Japanese firm, Venture Whisky, and is named after their founder, Ichiro Akuto. Venture Whisky was established in 2004 after Ichiro acquired the remaining unblended stocks of single malt from his grandfather’s Hanyu distillery. Ichiro’s Malt was born the following year, with the release of the original ‘Card’ series single casks of Hanyu. The company then opened its own distillery in 2008, the increasingly sought-after Chichibu. In addition to bottling these two single malts, the Ichiro’s Malt brand has also produced a number of sought after blended whiskies like this over the years. This expression was distilled in 2011 and aged in Imperial Stout cask #5577. It was bottled at cask strength in 2020 and made exclusive to spirit merchants, The Whisky Exchange.
On the nose: there is a waft of apples followed by peaches, coconuts, vanilla and marzipan. After these initial notes flavours in the form of honey, caramel and a note, which I can only describe as mineral. More notes in the form of currants, cinnamon and spicy stem ginger start to emerge. The nose is rounded-off with notes of floral and salty nature. The palate: those sweet notes of apples and peaches are ever-present, followed by dried fruit and a fresh grassy note. These first notes on the palate are followed by lashing of spices, cinnamon, butterscotch, a light zesty note. Flavours of aniseed, oatmeal, a waxy-like note and slight suggestion of floral notes complete the palate. The finish: medium, bittersweet, lingering spices and pepper, with a hint of salty caramel.
The verdict: I’m always intrigued by Japanese whisky and just how they manage to produce whisky with such depth in flavour. This 2020 Imperial Stout Cask expression has a lovely combination of notes that just seem to keep expanding, improving all the time and remind a little of one of my favourite maritime malts: Old Pulteney. It is a full-bodied whisky that is perfectly balanced but requires time and water until it can be fully explored. This stout cask expression has an ABV of 55.2% – making it a whisky that in my opinion, may require some mineral water or some time to rest to allow the oxygen to soften it up somewhat.
Chichibu 2020 Imperial Stout Cask Single Malt Whisky can only now be found at auction but be prepared to pay approximately £900+ for this drop of liquid gold. This is the point where we’d usually say visit so and so dot com for more info – however, The Chichibu Distillery don’t appear to have a website.