We’re back to Japan for another Chichibu tonight, we’re racking up hundreds of miles of travel from one country to another with this Advent Calendar! Not sure our CO2 emissions are very high, though, since all this travel has been purely virtual and in my Glencairn glasses! Anyway. Though Chichibu is a very young distillery, its owner Ichiro Akuto comes from a very long tradition of alcohol making, since the family produced sake then shochu since 1625 in Chichibu. The family founded Hanyu distillery in the 1980s, bringing water from Chichibu by truck, before the whisky market collapsed and Hanyu closed down in 2000. Then as I said in my Chichibu The Peated review, Ichiro Akuto founded Chichibu in 2007, and tonight we’re trying a Chichibu On The Way bottled in 2019.
Chichibu On The Way bot. 2019 Review
Chichibu has been bottling their spirit then whisky all steps… on the way to show whisky fans how their spirit (then later whisky) was developing. They started with New Born releases, with spirit not having matured for long enough to be called whisky yet. After that came Chibidaru, using small chibi (meaning cute in Japanese) 130-litre quarter casks. It was followed by The Floor Malted, made from barley that was… yeah, you got it, floor malted, the old-fashioned way. Then The Peated, using smoky barley including some peated by the team itself on a trip to England to learn about this. They also released IPA casks finishes and Port Pipes. And came On The Way, with releases in 2013, 2015 and this one, bottled in 2019, showing Chichibu moving towards their First Ten. It is a vatting of whisky distilled from when they opened in 2008, so it includes some of their oldest whiskies, to younger ones. The whiskies composing this release have matured for five to ten years. Fifty-two casks were used, mostly first-fill ex-bourbon casks, but also second-fill chibidaru casks as well as some hogsheads with Mizunara (Japanese oak) casks, some of the casks having been filled with peated whisky.
Apricot and peach at first, with some beer hops. Cereals (barley grist), vanilla, a little bit of oak, ginger, with alcohol being a bit prickly on the nose. Pineapple and tarte tatin. Custard cream too.
Reduction provides more apricot and peach dusted with vanilla sugar.
Citrus fruits, apricot, green apple, lychee and ginger make a fruity and slightly spicy arrival. The alcohol does not bite and the mouthfeel is a bit oily. Good milk chocolate (not an industrial one), with a light bitterness from the oak. Something floral in the end.
Dilution gives more sweetness at first before this sweetness leaves place to woodiness and some chilli pepper.
Some wood and flowers, butterscotch and ginger, medium to long length.
I quite like both the nose and the palate on this Chichibu. I liked its fruitiness both on the nose and on the palate. Even though it is on the way to 10yo, it cannot hide its youth and maybe some too active casks, providing a bit too much oak bitterness. Anyway, as I said I liked it and would love to be able to spend more time with it. But not at €300+ or even 4-500€ some ask for it at this time.
Lead image: whiskimen.com