Japanese whisky specialists and fans take note: Chichibu has three new products coming to market in the next few months.
First up is the Chichibu IPA Cask Finish 2017 (57.5% abv), a release that has seen the distillery partner with a secret Japanese craft brewer to do a barrel exchange. Chichibu sent some of its used casks to the brewer so they could age their beers in whisky casks, before the essentially beer-washed barrels returned to Chichibu and were filled with whisky for an extra-maturation period of between six months and three years.
The result is an incredibly honeyed whisky with a golden nose of fresh honey and honey lozenges, straw, butterscotch and cantaloupe melon that leads onto a bright palate of honey and lemon, and fresh hop characters from the IPA carrying through. A grapefruit bitterness develops later on, accompanied by a lightly numbing sansho pepper influence. This release consists of 6,700 bottles and is arriving before Christmas.
London is getting its very own release, the working title for which is Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu London Exclusive (60.9% abv). Landing here in the new year, it’s a vatting of four bourbon barrels aged between five and eight years. The team at Chichibu describe this whisky as being the ‘classic Chichibu house style’.
It has a purity of flavour that really makes it stand out, with aromas of barley baba au rhum and satsumas and flavours of honey and oatcakes, toffee, Werther’s Originals and a smattering of paprika and chilli. It’s incredibly balanced, with only a slight warming influence, which is notable given the high abv.
Finally, there’s the Chichibu the 2016 Peated (54.5% abv), a four-year-old whisky that has a peat level of 53.5ppm. It’s a notably dry whisky, with aromas of oatcake, burning wet wood, honeydew melon, lime and TCP. The palate boasts clear peat character in the form of charcoal, yet is relatively light, with lime pith, burnt toast and bitter marmalade along with a chalky texture and flavour.
Chichibu’s popularity as a distillery has slowly grown over the years, but recently it’s started to see its bottlings fly out quickly. The small Japanese distillery only produces 60,000 litres of whisky a year, with 12 people in the production team doing everything by hand… including stirring the mash tun. That’s some heavy work.
Being limited releases rather than continually available products, these releases will no doubt sell out in no time at all, so get your skates on in bagging some allocation.
Click here to see what our bartender panellists thought of previous Chichibu releases in our last Japanese whisky tasting.
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