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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. This Chichibu bottling was produced for the Japanese whisky retailer Shinanoya with a total turnout of 161 bottles. It is a three-year old Chichibu, coming from cask #291, and was matured in a so-called chibidaru, a cask similar to a quarter cask.
The nose is a stunner! It begins with intense vanilla flavours, cheesecake, and cinnamon. There is a slight nuttiness that is delightful. While it is quite pungent due to the high ABV with water the nose becomes mellow and reveals notes of white chocolate, caramel, and citrus cookies. Hard to believe that this is only three years old!
The palate is medium-bodied and quite peppery. Again there is a distinct touch of vanilla, followed by honey, caramel, and citrus notes. Water brings out a hitherto undetected sweetness: more vanilla, marzipan and a hint of milk chocolate. Perhaps not as stunning as the nose but very impressive all the same.
The finish is short, intense, and mouth-watering.
It really is hard to believe that this single malt is only three years old. The nose is a real stunner, and if you told me that this is a 10-year old I would be utterly convinced. I do not know how Akuto-san is doing this but clearly this is another stellar three-year old that Chichibu distillery produced in 2012. Make sure to experiment with water when you try this one as a whole new world of flavours will come your way.