I was in Tokyo for a few days in July 2014 for work – just enough time to both fall in love with the place and hunt down some interesting whiskies.
My quest was to discover whiskies less available outside Japan – and there was oodles of choice!
Alas I was restricted in quantity – my next stop was Shanghai before Kuala Lumpur and then finally home to Bombay. The solution was to pick up a few sample sized 180 – 200 ml options and not restrict myself to the impossible choice of just one.
While my initial thought was to stay away from Suntory, given its international success and pre-eminent status producing whisky in Japan, it was hard to miss! So I avoided the more accessible Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries and decided to give Chita a chance…
When you think of Japanese blends, one that immediately comes to mind is Hibiki… And one of the key elements in Hibiki is whisky from Suntory’s Chita Distillery in Port Nagoya, Aichi prefecture, an area better known for its production of sake.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of a single element of Hibiki however was sufficiently intrigued, it made the final ‘cut’ for accompanying me across multiple borders.
After sampling it in this month’s whisky tasting session, I’m so pleased it did.
- Colour – Pale straw
- Nose – Fruit basket, lemony, spray of perfume or a refreshing cologne, sweet honey, hint of peat… like a fresh meadow bursting with the scent of flowers
- Taste – A delight – smooth, subtle, honey, a bit dry on the tongue, a tinge of tumeric, light spice, in short it seemed bright, likely young but utterly superb
- Finish – Short happy finish
- Water? – One sacrificed to try however would not recommend adding even one drop! It is perfection exactly as is!
- Everyone found it exquisite – very delicate, yet still rounded with lots of subtle nuances
- As it was so light, it gave the impression of youth with a dash of sophistication
- A bright splash of perfume! None could recall having a whisky with quite this pronounced a perfume…
- Once the region was identified as Japan, one thought of Hibiki – and he was spot on!
While not stated on the bottle in English, the Chita Single Grain Whisky is known to be matured for 12 years. Given its delicate character, one can be forgiven for initially thinking ‘youth’ however in truth it is deceptively mature with womanly charms.
After our tasting, I began to think of the geishas of yore – trained in the arts not only of seduction but learned in all matters be it art, literature, dance, games, conversation… every detail refined with tremendous discipline behind its beauty and grace.
We tasted it together with Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask, Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year, Ichiro’s Malt – possibly Houou-uhi.
Final verdict? While I’m generally not known for enjoying ‘ladylike’ whiskies, this is such a unique approach I would love to have a full bottle gracing my whisky cabinet.
Check out what others are saying about Chita:
- Whisky Detectives – With extra points for including charming insights from their guest blogger Momoco with pics from her visit to the distillery!
- Pete Drinks – Featured on his Whisky Wednesday from 2012
- World Whisky – Who picked up on the un-whisky dimension to this whisky
- Malt – Whisky Reviews
PS Singapore Airport has a NAS Chita expression from August 2016
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