I know it says Chichibu, but this spirit wasn’t distilled in Japan. It is an American whiskey transferred to Japan for an additional ageing at Chichibu.
Ken’s Choice is a series of whiskeys selected by Ken Matsuyam who runs a whiskey bar in Tokyo. In this case the whiskey was matured in Kentucky for 7 years and was then transported to the Chichibu distillery for further maturation (also 7 years) in an ex-Chichibu cask. In this series there was a set of piano, drums and contrabass in 2018, and later also a guitar bottling. This trumpet bottling was released in 2021.
Ken’s Choice – Jazz Instrumental ‘Trumpet’ 2007 (59%, Chichibu 2021, cask #3932, 300 btl.)
Nose: quite aromatic, with almonds and pecans, as well as pencil shavings, candied ginger and plenty of varnish. Not too much vanilla, this stays on the drier side of the American spectrum. Some earthy spice, pine needles and peppermint with an ever increasing floral touch. Really fragrant after a while. Also a wee acetic / acetone note.
Mouth: really spicy, with aromatic pepper, liquorice and aniseed. More peppermint. Some darker Demerara sugar and pancake syrup in the background, with floral honey. Spiced bread. Hints of juniper berries (something I get in Chichibu more often), eucalyptus and still these high-pitched hits of varnish.
Finish: quite long, mixing caramelized notes with mint.
I’m guessing the Chichibu cask added this specific floral / high-pitched element which lifts the American whiskey in a way. While it’s a good whiskey, the Japanese influence is more of a gimmick driving up the price… Thanks for the sample, Whiskay!