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Chichibu distillery is located in the town of Chichibu, close to the city of Saitama and about 120 kilometres to the northwest of Tokyo. Ichiro Akuto, the distillery’s charismatic founder, started construction planning in 2007, and after completing the distillery, a bottling plant and a warehouse he began distilling in the spring of 2008. The distillery equipment was made in and imported from Scotland, with the exception of the mash tun that was purchased from a local brewery. Ichiro Akuto’s long-term plan is to eventually grow, malt and peat his own barley but at present the barley is imported from England as well as from Germany, and the peat is brought in from Scotland. Chichibu “The Peated” was distilled in 2009 and bottled in 2012 as a three-year old single malt with a total outturn of 5,000 bottles.
The nose at first is intensely malty, milky, and full of odours that you get during the fermentation process. Later, smoke that was lurking in the background slowly comes to the fore. Smoked bacon also makes an appearance, followed by soft vanilla flavours.
The palate is full-bodied and spicy. Rich smoke develops, followed by bits of lemon and vanilla. Towards the end there is a whiff of oak.
The finish is long and smoky. Vanishing notes of caramel are followed by oak and a citrusy maltiness.
Again, and with many of Ichiro Akuto's creations, it is hard to believe that this is only three years old. This is not an overly complex single malt, but the delightfully smoky nose as well as the firm palate belie its young age. It is only the light woodiness and the maltiness that let you guess that this is not a ten-year old. Once more I have to say: “Well done, Akuto-san!“.