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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 “Port Pipe” was distilled in 2009, then put in quarter casks for three years before being transferred into port pipes for a further one-year maturation. It was bottled in 2013 as a four-year old single malt with a total outturn of 4,200 bottles. These tasting notes relate to bottle #843.
The nose begins with a rich, pleasant maltiness mixed with initial alcoholic burn, then becomes quite austere with notes of sandpaper and plastic coming to the fore. After adding water flavours of oranges and cherries emerge, followed by sweet wood spice and a hint of chocolate.
The palate starts with alcoholic burn and is rather dry. Adding water immediately releases flavours of oranges and grapefruit, followed by very floral elements such as rose petals.
The finish is of medium length but very warming. The grapefruit flavours are back, together with fruitcake and rhubarb (something that I very rarely find in whisky). Sweet wood spice rounds everything off.
This four-year old is one of those Chichibu that in my opinion show their age. This is a young whisky and it does come through, even though the overall result still is impressive. I found the palate to be the most intriguing part with its combination of distinctly sweet and floral elements. So, yes, this is a young whisky but it remains a good example of the high-quality work done at Chichibu distillery.