Chichibu Ichiro’s Malt Port Pipe 2009/2013

I have found another trinity combination that I love; peat, port and cask strength! This was from a Japanese tasting presented by Bruce (@thedramdog) at the WhiskyBrother store. We had bottle #2665 of 4200 bottles produced.

Chichibu Ichiros Malt Port Pipe 2009_2013Whisky: Chichibu Ichiro’s Malt Port Pipe 2009/2013, 54.5% ABV

Region: Japan

Style: Single Malt

Age: 4 years

 In 2007 Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the founder of the Hanyu distillery, decided to build a new whisky distillery in the city of Chichibu. They began distilling in the spring of 2008. It is said that the weather of the region, tough winters with hot and humid summers, helps to provide a maturity to the whiskies at a younger age.

The distillery equipment was made in and imported from Scotland, with the exception of the mash tun that was purchased from a local brewery. The long-term plan is to eventually grow, malt and peat their own barley but at present the barley is imported from England as well as from Germany, and the peat is brought in from Scotland.

This Chichibu Port Pipe was distilled in 2009. It was aged then for 3 years in quarter casks (50L) before being “finished” for a further year in port pipes (650L barrels that previously matured Port). It is this second maturation in the port pipe that it would suck in some of the port characteristics, this include the colour. It was then bottled, at cask strength, as a 4 year old in 2013 with a total production of 4,200 bottles.


Colour: Tawny tending to a lovely mahogany\rose copper with extremely slow and thick legs.

Nose: Young and lively with a fresh grape sweetness to it. There is also some yeastiness, red fruits (strawberry, cranberries and cherries), earthiness and grain/cereal round the nose out. Overall the nose is a pretty sweet one. Even the spiciness on the nose is to the sweeter side – winter and wood spices. There is also the faintest hint of Turkish delight covered in dark chocolate for me.

Palate: Very hot upfront (tip of tongue burn, due to the cask strength of the bottle no doubt) but that burns off very quickly to reveal dark fruit, burnt sweetness, tobacco leaves, strawberry and a slight smokiness. With some time more citrus fruits and Xmas cake mix emerge. There is a floral herbaceouness on the back palate.

Finish: Medium to long with hot sweet spiciness, citrus fruits and Xmas cake mix. There is a slight bitterness at the very end.

Overall: A fairly complex and intriguing whisky for one so young and the freshness does show on this whisky. The influence of the Port Pipe can definitely be felt in my opinion. I was very fortunate to experience this whisky, thanks Bruce!

My Score: 86

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