Chichibu On The Way is the work in progress of Ichiro Akuto. He founded his distillery in 2008 at the foot of a mountain in the region of Saitama, and he is on the way to release his first 5 years old whisky.
The current Chichibu On The Way is a vatting of three casks:
one Mizunara oak hogshead filled in 2008, in fact this was the second oldest cask in the distillery
one American oak ex-bourbon barrel filled in 2009 (used for ‘The Floor Malted’ batch 2009
another American oak ex-bourbon barrel filled in 2010 (used for ‘The Floor Malted’ batch 2010
Although the packaging says five years old, this refers to the oldest whisky in the vatting – Japanese rules are different from Scottish. Despite its high alcohol volume, it is not entirely cask strength.
Chichibu ‘On The Way’ (58,5%, OB 2013, 9900 btl.)
Nose: a brightly oaked profile, showing grassy notes, fresh oak shavings and hay. Sweet malt, youngish pear and vanilla. Quite a lot of herbal notes too: fennel seeds, menthol and pepper. New leather. Mouth: lots of sweet pears and apple pie, sweet breakfast cereals and a thick, syrupy side. Lychee juice. Popcorn. Apricot jam. A wide array of spices again, giving it an oriental touch as well as a potpourri-like edge. Some green, oaky notes on top. Finish: long, drier, with lots of wood spices and a hint of incense.
A really interesting Chichibu, showing the powerful aromas of Mizunara oak. All those spices make it quite oriental. I hope the real 5 year-old finds a better balance, but this is certainly promising. Around € 135. Thanks, Angelo.
The Ultimate is a series from the well-known Dutch bottler / importer van Wees. It’s a wide range with a fairly good value for money ratio.
We’re trying the latest Tamdhu 2005 bottled in January 2015. Several 2004-2005 casks have been bottled before.
Tamdhu 9 yo 2005 (60,3%, The Ultimate 2015, sherry butt #353, 631 btl.)
Nose: lots of toffee, butterscotch and marzipan for starters. Then the more typical dried fruits (dates, figs), as well as blueberries, candied orange peel and a hint of eucalyptus. Something of a creamy vanilla / raspberry combination, which gives it a hint of cupcakes. A slightly musty undertone of overripe melons, but otherwise very nice. Mouth: very punchy and creamy, with some intense sherry notes, big caramel toffee and molasses sweetness. Raisins. Hints of toasted oak, ginger and a chili heat. Again a very light mustiness underneath, but nothing dirty. Finish: long with a peppery heat, sweet malt syrup and a red berry sweetness.
This Tamdhu is a punchy, creamy, modern sherry bottling for people with a sweet tooth. Or two. Really good value for money. Around € 50.
Talisker Skye is the latest release from this distillery, which is effectively on the Isle of Skye. It’s the fourth (and supposedly youngest) No Age Statement release in under two years (after Talisker Storm, Talisker Dark Storm and Talisker Port Ruighe). Apparently it’s here to stay as a permanent extension of the core range.
Talisker Skye is matured in refill and toasted American oak casks, with that last type having the biggest proportion.
Talisker Skye (45,8%, OB 2015)
Nose: fairly sweet and youngish with pears, orange juice and a little apricot. This mixes with a soft, rounded smokiness and hints of toasted oak indeed. Vanilla. There’s brine as well, but the typical peppery notes are much less obvious. More nutmeg this time. Mouth: much more spicy now (pepper, ginger) and smoky, but again balanced by a candied sweetness (baked apple, peach candy, berries). Hints of dark chocolate with a pinch of salt towards the end. Some tarry smoke growing stronger. Finish: medium long, with the spicy warmth and smoke standing out, coming to a drier, ashy finale.
This is an uncommonly sweet and fruity Talisker. Young alright, but the toasted oak works out quite well. A nice entry-level whisky and the best NAS so far from Talisker. Around € 35.
Ian MacLeod bottled a whole series of Rosebank 1990 casks. Sister casks #611, 612 and 614 were all bottled in 2008.
Rosebank 18 yo 1990 (48%, Ian MacLead Dun Bheagan 2008, sherry butt #611, 618 btl.)
Nose: a solid, sweet malty base, with some butter pears, apple and mango. Honey. It shows a bit of an old-style side as well, think waxed dental floss and library dust. Mocha. Hints of walnuts and ginger. Mint. Of course there’s also the typical lemony side. Mouth: sweet fruity notes (peach, pear, orange) alongside slightly bitter fruits (grapefruit). Grassy and herbal touches, even some salt. Candied ginger, a little juniper. Sweet peppermint and faint hints of camphor. Slightly funny to get the Lowlands austerity combined with so much sweetness. Finish: medium long and bittersweet. Lemon, orange zest, ginger and nutmeg.
Good Rosebank, interesting because of its sherry sweetness that mixes well with the more typical Lowlands notes. Around € 160 at the time. Thanks, Stefan.
Isle of Jura distilled March 1966 and bottled March 1984. It’s 18 years old.
This is one of the old dumpy Cadenhead bottles with black label. I’m always surprised when I see the typography of these labels, the distillery names tend to be set in funky (sometimes cheapo) fonts that are so typical of the 1980’s. As if someone at Cadenhead’s bought one of these cd-roms with 50.000 “professional” fonts.
Jura 18 yo 1966 (46%, Cadenhead 1984, dumpy brown bottle, 75 cl)
Nose: a highly mentholated profile with quite some sappy notes. Hints of metal polish and huge tobacco notes. Dried flowers and old books. Becomes slightly fruitier after a while (a nice, warm fruitiness) but it’s really shy and it stays pretty much on the greasy, leathery and metallic side. Hints of heather and walnuts. Mouth: earthy and herbal, with maritime notes, salty liquorice, walnuts and some medicinal touches. Medium peat. Hardly any fruits now. Resinous notes, different oils and wax. Finish: long, with lingering phenols, walnuts and a salted, mouthwatering end.
This is an austere Jura, which misses some of the great tropical fruits of other 1960’s expressions and focuses on rougher notes. A really nice example of the Islay-esk side of this distillery. Rarely seen in auctions.
Nose: a creamy nose, full of popcorn, vanilla and wood varnish. Butter pastry. Minty notes. Pineapple yoghurt and coconut cream. Fresh oak shavings with some nutmeg. Typical middle-aged grain whisky, nice enough. Mouth: very sweet, with popcorn, caramel and vanilla cream at the centre. Some lemon zest and grapefruit, giving it a bitter edge. Also a slightly harsh alcoholic side that I find a bit too loud. Pepper and ginger. Finish: long, sweet and gingery / peppery.
I like it on the nose, but the heavy sweetness, the wodka-like kick and the coconutty touches on the palate remind me of a ready-made Piña Colada. Not that it’s bad, I guess it’s just not my type. Around € 90.
A couple of years ago, The Whisky Agency set up a kind of Taiwanese link. Some of the releases are now exclusively available in Taiwan. You rarely hear of these bottlings over here in Europe, so we’re pleased to try a couple of them.
Let’s start with the nicest label, designed by two artists who also signed each bottle and the accompanying wooden box. This Clynelish 1996 is nicknamed ‘Eagles want to fly’. From what I’ve heard, it is a commemorative bottling for some kind of bird research programme. I hope Google Translate didn’t let me down here.
Clynelish 18 yo 1996 (50,4%, The Whisky Agency 2014, refill hogshead, 304 btl., Taiwan)
Nose: a lot of candy sugar and barley sugar at first, alongside some sappy notes (pine) and typical wax. Quite some mint, moving towards medicinal / coastal notes like iodine. Grassy notes. Fragrant lemon. Very clean and enjoyable. Mouth: classic. Citrus fruits (both juices and skins), just enough before it moves to chalky notes, waxes and a grapefruit zestiness with gentle bitter touches. Also a faint earthiness, as well as a hint of salty liquorice. Finish: long, coastal and earthy, almost an impression of peat (although I doubt it is really peated).
In general I like my Clynelish rounded and waxy, but in this case the earthy, coastal and almost peaty profile is also a nice surprise.
Tobermory is part of the Burn Stewart group, which also owns Bunnahabhain and Deanston. Their results have been pretty good lately and most of the ranges have been revamped and upgraded recently. Tobermory is frequently seen on the market in the peated Ledaig form lately, especially from independent bottlers.
This Tobermore 10 Year Old was first released in its current form in 2007.
Tobermory 10 yo (46,3%, OB 2014)
Nose: raw grains, lots of porridge. Wet hay. Overripe apples. Not as fresh as I hoped. Goes on with salty seaweed, moss and oily notes. A touch of butter toffee as well. Hardly any fruitiness. Not that this is obligatory, mind you. It’s different, but maybe not entirely convincing for me. Mouth: better. Still oily but slightly sweeter (oranges, acacia honey, berries) which works well alongside the softly briny / mineral notes. Hay. Pepper and liquorice. Whiffs of smoke too. Finish: quite short, showing a malty / chocolaty sweetness and a hint of pepper.
It’s nice to see a standard 10 Year Old taking a slightly different route, but not everything in this malt is successful. Around € 33.