Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chichibu Single Cask for TIBS - Whisky Live Tokyo 2013

Vintage: 2009 - Bottled: 2013 - Cask No. 422 - Cask type: First fill bourbon barrel - ABV: 61.8%

Nose: Initially you don't want to put your nose too far in the glass when first cracked - if you do your nostrils will take a beating. This needs to open up (15/20min). Forget your impressions (spirity) on the 1st and 2nd glass, don't let the small disappointment get in the way. Wait at least for the 4th glass: Spicy butterscotch pudding, tart crust (dough), peppered celery and bean sprouts, baked lemon peel, crushed vitamin C tablet, and chamomile. With water mild Fruit Loop cereal and mellow scented soap. Patience really is the key to this malt. At certain intervals and nosing angles I get lovely rich raspberry syrup when diluted and hints of fresh soft licorice. With the addition of extra water I get Butter-Menthols and flower boutique aromas along with pear drops.

Taste: Hard hitting spice - extremely tongue tingling with Sansho Japanese pepper, herbs, and mild jalapeno. Ginkgo nuts are emphasized with water. However, more water means more bitterness (grapefruit peel and green olives) followed by dryness. It does however mellow out those extreme spices. In my opinion water does not give this malt justice on the palate - it doesn't retain your typical sweetness that bourbon barrels often attribute, especially for a first fill. Youthfulness is evident. It's not rough but just not a lot happening regarding flavour profile. Where's the vanilla?

Finish: Lengthy on heavy spices (Sansho) that merge with candied grapefruit peel, hints of Butter-Menthols and green olives. Mouth numbing really.

Comment: I really do hope this will change. Like the rest of you I'm a big fan of Chichibu but if I must be completely honest this bottling didn't win me over, shame being a single cask. On a critical level its definitely not a favourite among my Chichibu collection - I expected a bit more given the price. Having said that this may be something that many of you love, certainly don't go on my opinion.

Note: Reasons why I let time go by before opening this was to see how many (if any) bottles actually got opened (excluding bars) and consumed instead of going straight to the resale market. Trawling the internet suggests not too many were cracked.


  1. Single casks are always going to be hit and miss. You can only hope that the individual that decided to bottle the cask has similar tastes to yours. And my bottle of this guy is open and is slowly getting depleted.

    1. That is true, Chris. The "hit&miss" factor will always be there among every single cask, or even vatted casks for that matter. Perhaps my taste buds have been spoiled for choice with every other Chichibu making this (in my opinion) not as glorious in comparison. If only the individual could bottle casks similar to your tastes however, that would be extremely hard to satisfy everyone I guess. So I take it you are enjoying your depleting bottle? I will be re-visiting my bottle tonight that is at the half way mark with friends. Lets see if there are any developments.

  2. I think it is good - nothing special though. I have used it in Chichibu vertical tastings with friends mostly.

  3. Last Thursday I revisited this while sharing it with friends. This was basically at the half level mark. At that time I really didn't find much of a difference from my initial opinion above. However, I should add that this week, without consumption from the last session, vanilla is becoming present on the nose. A gradual build-up, but the palate is still lacking in character in my opinion. Perhaps this is one of those whiskies that shines around the 200ml remaining mark (again just an opinion)?