By now, it is quite clear that I’m a fan of Japanese whiskies. Alas two things are increasingly becoming a challenge – accessibility and affordability.
Six years ago, Suntory came to Mumbai for a trade fare to test the waters for distributing to India. I fell in love with their Hakushu even more than the lovely Yamazaki and Hibiki whiskies I could more readily obtain and had sampled many times before.
I remember following up to see if there was progress on their entering the Indian market – and more specifically the Hakushu range – at the time the answer was no.
So I would track down the nuanced character of the Hakushu 18 year in places like Singapore until the prices sky-rocketed beyond my bracket.
Since then, my interest in exploring Japanese whiskies hasn’t abated and through our fabulous Mumbai whisky tasting groups, from time to time, someone manages to snag an interesting bottle. Our journey expanded well beyond Suntory’s offerings to also explore Nikka and Ichiro’s Malts and more!
The challenge is that what we find and enjoy today is likely not available tomorrow. Nearly all of the Japanese whiskies we’ve sampled over the last few years are now found on auctions not directly through reliable sources like The Whisky Exchange or La Maison du Whisky.
For example, this delightful Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu ‘The Floor Malted’ 3 year, may be relatively well-known but not so easy to find. So read on… as you may not be able to track down a bottle… which is a pity!
- Colour – Light, young and sassy
- Nose – Bright fresh peaches, dried apricot and coconut… after airing a bit, bananas and sweet honeyed caramel also made an appearance
- Taste – Strong, dry and nutty with a coffee bean bite, bitter-sweet and very woody
- Finish – Woody, coffee lingered
- Water? Too piquant for most, water spoilt it with even only a few drops
Reactions from blind tasting – Scottish or not? Must be matured in burboun casks, hence the honey and fruit, age indeterminate… but definitely interesting
The reveal – A more difficult to find Japanese offering that is a mere three years old! From 2009, bottled in 2012. We sampled bottle # 8791 of 8800.
It was, more than many other of our tasting sessions, a perfect example of how age is not the most important factor in producing an interesting whisky. The character of the new make spirit, cask quality and care in maturation can enable a young upstart of only three years to challenge a mature 20 year old.
Interested in exploring other Ichiro’s Malt?
- Chita Single Grain Whisky 12 year 43%
- Hakushu 18 year 43%
- Hibiki Harmony NAS 43%
- Yamazaki Sherry Cask 1998 61%
Or go discover Nikka‘s offerings…
- Coffey Grain Whisky 45%
- ‘From the Barrel’ NAS 51.4%
- Miyagikyo 15 year 45%
- Nikka Blended Whisky 40%
- ‘Yoichi’ 10 year 45%
- Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year 43%
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