Three is the magic number. Three years of distillation. And in that time, Ichiro Akuto at Chichibu has produced a whisky that surpasses drams that are far older. I’m an admirer of this distillery, as some of you might already know, and am convinced that there’s something magic going on out there. I was very excited when this new whisky finally made it to the UK; but I don’t go naively into tastings with a fanboy hat on. The wares have to stand up to the test.
Chichibu The Peated is a heavily peated whisky originally distilled in 2009, and was bottled in 2012 at 50.5% ABV. I believe this has spent a little while in a bourbon cask, refill hogshead as well as oak hogshead.
Colour: honey. Surprisingly dark for something that’s only three years old. On the nose: beautiful sweet peat. This is genuinely a lovely smoky nose. For a Scottish equivalent, think Port Charlotte or even a hint of Laphroaig 10. There’s a definite wood influence there, some raw vanilla-flavours coming through as well, but it really makes for something utterly charming. Beguiling. Three years old!
In the mouth: A repeat of the nose – same sweetness, lashings of vanilla custard while sitting around a campfire. Now, it’s not overly complex – but the sheer boldness, the sheer ballsiness of the flavours here, hides all that. You don’t even care. There’s a lovely viscosity. It’s very close to Port Charlotte, in that there’s that thick elegance going on. Bit chewy smoked raisins. Finishes off with a little woodiness, and some zippy, citrusy maltiness that just about reminds you that it ain’t all that old. It’s precisely the kind of peated whisky I like to drink on a sunny evening, and crosses the seasons beautifully.
I’m staggered. This is three years old, and despite the fact that it’s bold and gutsy rather than overly complex, it’s better than whiskies thrice its age. It’s even better at being a peat beast than a lot of Islay peated offerings. It’s classy as hell. What on Earth is Chichibu going to be selling in a decade? The mind boggles. Chichibu The Peated is £90 – about the going rate for a solid Japanese offering.
You might think that’s a lot for a three year old whisky, but in this case you’d be wrong.