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Latest Japanese releases

by Gavin D Smith, 03/10

The Number One Drinks Company Ltd has recently released an exciting and very varied quintet of Japanese whiskies. Chichibu is the country's newest distillery, opened in 2008, while Hanyu produced whisky between 1980 and 2000. Karuizawa was established in 1955. All whiskies available from specialist retailers. See also

Chichibu, Newborn (heavily peated) Cask #452 (Japan)
(Distilled and bottled 2009). Matured in a new American oak hogshead, this variant boasts sweet peat, plasticine and fish oil on the nose. Surely an infant Islay? The palate offers butter and pears, becoming steadily smokier, with background dark fruit. Kippery in the finish. Notably drier with water, and the plasticine note from the nose returns. 61.4% ABV, 70cl, 65.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Chichibu, Newborn Double Matured (unpeated) Cask #446 (Japan)
(Distilled 2008, bottled 2009). Initially matured in a Bourbon barrel, then finished in a new American oak hogshead, this expression of Chichibu offers a highly distinctive nose of soy sauce and incense sticks. More overtly spicy with water. Sweet and plummy in the mouth, with mixed spices and gingery oak developing. The finish is medium in length, with lively, fruity spices. 61.3% ABV, 70cl, 65.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Hanyu, 1991 Cask #370 (Japan)
Finished in a Japanese oak cask, this Hanyu bottling is fresh and fragrant on the nose, with spicy caramel, white chocolate, and a hint of pepper. Ripe plums and ginger on the palate, becoming nuttier and drying. The finish dries steadily, with spices and insistent oak tannins. 57.3% ABV, 70cl, 105.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Karuizawa, 1985 Cask #7017 (Japan)
Maple syrup, cocoa and vanilla on the nose, with a whiff of furniture polish. Vibrant, dark sherry notes in the mouth, developing freshly-laid tarmac and cough lozenges. A good length to the finish, agreeably drying, with Oddfellows sweets. 60.8% ABV, 70cl, 90.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Karuizawa, Noh 1976 Cask #6719 (Japan)
Matured in a Sherry butt, Noh Karuizawa 1976 is sweet on the nose, with big, fragrant sherry notes, incense, buttery and spicy fudge. Developing soft vanilla. Textured on the palate, very spicy, with stewed fruits, walnuts and fresh oak. The finish is long and oaky. Liquorice and dark chocolate. Ultimately, a not unattractive slight burnt rubber note. 63.0% ABV, 70cl, 135.00, specialist whisky merchants.

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