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.