Chichibu New Make Spirit 2015 review
Concerto non-peated, batch 2469-2489, 63.5% abv
Nose: very creamy and fruity with apples and peaches. Also almonds and toffee with a touch of spice.
Taste: very drinkable it must be said in this form. Less forced and alcohol-ridden than some new makes I’ve had from Scotland. Tangy and a zesty nature with pepper, juicy pears and a nutty aspect with a long buttery finish.
Chichibu On The Way Review
Bottled 2015, a multi-vintage vatting, bottle number 4308 of 10,700. 55.5% abv
Colour: a worn oak table
Nose: more creaminess and a big oak presence matched by a dull vanilla aspect – that’ll be the use of Mizunara. More buttery toffee and a youthful quality with hazelnuts, black pepper and a little ginger.
Taste: again just a lovely creamy aspect that glides across the palate. It has a distinctive thick oily texture. A very short finish it must be said. Leathery and syrup-like qualities upon tasting. A touch of all-spice and a small batch vanilla ice cream.
Overall: as the title suggests its a work in progress and some promising roots have been established already. Very drinkable despite in spite of its youth and well harnessed and vatted.
Chichibu Mizunara 7 years old review
cask #89, Braemar malt, 58.8% abv, from a virgin oak Mizunara puncheon cask
Colour: a vibrant brownish-red-orange
Nose: massively distinctive dirty vanilla wrapped around a charred essence. Sandalwood with a creme tart. A yeasty dough perspective with pepper and a little tobacco. Apricot jam in in the mix as well.
Taste: more apricot and creamy vanilla once more. Hazelnuts and pepper, plus a spice layer of cloves and tarragon pulped together.
Overall: loved the original nose on this one and the palate is fun but somehow I was expecting a revolution. It’s another string but no Hendrix.
Chichibu Sherry 7 years old review
cask 1388, 2009-2013 a bourbon cask before 2013-2016 in a Jerez sherry butt, 60% abv
Colour: a honey glaze
Nose: similar to the Mizunara cask in some respects but more character with cherries, ginger and an orange marmalade. Creamed corn and a fresh batter aspect.
Taste: dark chocolate, resin and pepper oat cakes. A plum jam and a strawberry jelly.
Overall: a very pleasant sherry-influence here without becoming a monster dram. Surprisingly drinkable at 60% strength and lovely example of a worthwhile sherry finish.
Chichibu Peated 3 years old review
cask 2039, 2012-2016 a bourbon barrel, optic and HP barley, 61% abv, 50-53ppm
Scottish barley from the Inverness and Aberdeen regions
Colour: a sandy beach
Nose: a smoked lemon rises up from the glass followed by chalky seashells and icing sugar. A little rock salt but persistence brings out the tenacity of the wood; a dirty vanilla and pencil shavings before the vegetative decay of mossy peat returns ended with a twist of lime.
Taste: the pungent vegetative tact continues as I’m almost reminded of an earthy vegetable liquidised. Pine cones, grapefruit, spent matchsticks, liquorice and salty popcorn. Dark chocolate and a decent creamy vanilla finish.
Overall: youthful on the nose it is noticeable how swamped it is removing the strength of the alcohol. Based on the nosing I wouldn’t have put this down as being above 50% strength. On the palate its amazingly balanced and full of character despite being just 3 years old. In summary just one word here being bravo!
And now for the grand finale…
Chichibu Kusuda review
matured in a Kusuda Martinborough wine Pinot Noir cask number #2355
barley tipple, distilled June 2009 and bottled January 2015 at 61.3% abv and 300 bottles. Available at the bar for £20 a nip.
Colour: a glorious ruby amber
Nose: a big reddish presence with ripe strawberries, rose petals and cranberries. Rolled tobacco out of a tin and a well worm leather book. Cherries dipped in dark chocolate. Then a meaty undercurrent which is takes me back to venison served with juniper berries.
Taste: what a rush with a red berry compote and a hefty wood influence. It’s not a rummage in a sweet shop, far from being a sweetie there’s depth and variety here. A slight bitterness of dark chocolate, liquorice and some cracked black pepper. Blood orange, more cherries, cola cubes, a hint of caramel and a luxurious texture persists into the finish.
Overall: this strain of barley is mainly used by brewers soI haven’t come across it before within a whisky. Researching this cask I stumbled upon the story of Hiro Kusuda a former diplomat and ex-lawyer who had a dream of establishing his own winery. He and his young family made ends meet with no income for 8 years to realise his vision. Even today Kusuda wine is a very small operation. This Japanese dedication seems like an ideal partnership to what Yumi presented us with in the Highlander Inn. Another perfect match and the whisky is a real highlight of 2016. A fine way to end a marvellous virtual and interactive tour of Chichibu and its whiskies.
My thanks to Yumi and everyone involved for such a warm welcome and hugely enjoyable event.