After two 20 yo Yoichis let’s close out this mini-run of Japanese malts with this very young whisky from the relatively new Chichibu distillery. Founded in 2008 by Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the founder of the now shuttered Hanyu distillery, and the man whose name is on the famous “Ichiro’s Malts” series, Chichibu has already become a bit of a sensation in its young life—somewhat predictable given the founder’s pedigree and the general excitement these days about Japanese whisky of any kind. It is a small distillery and so far they’ve released a number of small batch malts in a number of different styles (peated, unpeated, different cask types)—most of which have been very well received. (The prices, it should be noted, are very high for the age.) The one I am reviewing today is from chibidaru or smaller quarter casks. It is I believe a vintage, small batch release, not a single cask. Well, let’s see what it’s like.
Chichibu 2009-2013 (53.5%; chibidaru cask; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Roasted malt and sweet wood of some kind (not tannic at all). Then quite a bit of plum and something a bit more floral, but always with the roasted malt. The fruit expands a bit after a minute—there’s hints of apricot now and also some raspberries with cream; some lemon peel too. Water should bring more of it out. And indeed it does; it also brings out more cereals.
Palate: Much more woody on the palate to start and sweeter too (more berries than anything else). And it’s pretty closed at full strength. I’ll give it some more time and a couple more sips and then see what water does. Well, time and air don’t do much for it: it still tastes sweet and oaky in a very young whisky kind of way; and it’s more tannic with time. Bring on the H2O. Still pretty hot with five drops of water but now the wood is spicy rather than tannic. Some lime too now and some of that apricot from the nose.
Finish: Medium. Oak spice and that simple sweetness. Spicier with water and less sweet. With more time the late-developing citrus begins to hang around.
Comments: It noses older than its age but the palate is not quite as precocious. Water brings out more fruit and knocks back some of the wood but it tastes like the young whisky it is throughout. It’s very good for very young whisky though and should be great stuff when it reaches full maturity.
Rating: 83 points.
Thanks to Nick for the sample!