Nikka 12, “Woody & Mellow”


I started last week with a review of a Japanese whisky (this Hanyu); I may as well end this week with a review of another. This one is not a single malt. It was one of a series of limited edition whiskies released by Nikka, all of which were 12 years old and all of which were marked by two key characteristics. I’m a bit fuzzy on whether the idea was/is that these are the whiskies that in some combination go into Nikka’s blends or that they were to be purchased as components for home blending—I do believe they were only available at the Yoichi distillery (please correct me if I’m wrong). I’ve previously reviewed the Yoichi “Peaty & Salty” from the same series, and I quite liked that one. This, however, is a grain whisky, and one distilled in a coffey or two-column continuous still that is commonly used in grain whisky distillation. My track record with grain whisky is not very good but, as always, I live in hope. Maybe this will be the best grain whisky I’ve had in a while. Let’s see.
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Hanyu 2000-2012, Chibidaru Cask, Ichiro’s Malt


I’ve only reviewed one other release from Hanyu, a closed Japanese distillery. That was back in 2013, not too long after I’d started the blog, and I see that in that review I’d threatened a review of another cask of Hanyu. This whisky is not that one—I think I know which one that was supposed to be but I have no idea where the hell that sample disappeared to. Maybe I drank it and forgot to review it? This particular whisky was distilled in 2000, the year Hanyu stopped production. It’s another in the Ichiro’s Malt series—named for Ichiro Akuto, best-known now for the Chichibu distillery. I don’t really follow Japanese whisky very closely—what would be the point when there’s so little worth drinking that’s affordable these days?—and so I don’t really know if there are still casks of Hanyu emerging, or for that matter what the story is with Chichibu. Anyway, this one was bottled in 2012 for the Tokyo International Bar Show and was finished in quarter casks (that’s what the “chibidaru” refers to). Let’s see what it’s like. Continue reading

Chichibu Peated, 2010-2013


This turned out to be Japanese food and whisky week on the blog. I reviewed two Japanese restaurants in the Los Angeles area (Raku in West Hollywood and Osawa in Pasadena) and on Wednesday I had a review of a young Yoichi.  And now this Chichibu to close the week. Aha, you’re thinking, what about Monday, you bastard? Didn’t you review a Bowmore then? Well, joke’s on you, cynical interlocutor: Bowmore is owned by Suntory. Not so clever now, are you? Chichibu, however, is not owned by Suntory. It is to the big Japanese producers as Kilchoman is to the big Scottish producers: small, artisanal etc. I believe they started distilling in 2008, which means nothing very old has come on the market from their own spirit. This one is certainly not old. Distilled in 2010 and bottled in 2013 it’s even younger than Wednesday’s Yoichi. It’s also peated. I’m curious to see how it compares with young peated Islay malts. Let’s get right to it.  Continue reading