The Ichiro’s malt is a blended malt whisky (Pure Malt as they call it in Japan); It’s a blend of single malts from the closed Hanyu Distillery and the Chichibu Distillery, which is the spiritual successor of Hanyu.
Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries
This is a blend of Hanyu whisky matured in sherry casks, and Chichibu whisky matured in new Japanese Mizunara oak cask. No detail on the age and vatting of each malts. Vatted and bottled in 2010.
Container: Glencairn Neat
Colour: Light Gold
Nose: Really sweet and fruity, sharp ethanol, apples, pears, honey, which reminds me of the Glenlivet Nadurra 16, but the Nadurra is much more mellow on the nose. Hints of strawberries, orange, and oak. I would guess a higher percentage of the younger Chichibu whisky is present here.
Palate: Peppery, cinnamon, malt, oak, cereal, nutmeg? slightly hot for 46%, surprisingly not fruity like the nose, not too much going-on on the palate.
Finish: Long finish, bitter oak, more peppery, malt, soap? The finish got really oaky and bitter notes starts showing up, rounding things off with a long spicy finish, some weird soap like notes kicked in on my last sip
It was a pretty solid dram until the off notes kicked in, too much bitter oak, and that weird soap note didn’t do it for me. Overall pretty decent nose, not too complex on the palate, and the finish killed it for me.
Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve
This is a blend of malts from both Hanyu and Chichibu Distillery again, but this time, only whiskies aged in Japanese Mizunara Wood have been used. Mizunara is a native Japanese Oak, used by other Japanese distillery usually blended alongside other wood casks.
Container: Glencairn Neat
Colour: Gold-Amber, darker than the Double Distillery.
Nose: Really different on the nose right off the bat. Very aromatic, perhaps this is what Mizunara oak smells like. Really syrupy, honey notes. Sharp ethanol again, not sure if it’s the Mizunara oak, or it has a leather note to it. I get hints of fruits in the background, but the oak/leather notes are so dominating hard to pin-point what they are.
Palate: Leathery on the palate again, starting to believe that’s the characters of the oak. Pepper, very oaky, hint of brine, very slight malty sweetness. Not much fruity or not much going-on again. The oak and pepper is very pronounced.
Finish: Medium-finish, peppery, and oaky.
Very simple yet dominating nose and palate, starting to get the hang of how the Mizunara oak smells and taste like. But it lacks complexity, doesn’t have the bitterness of the Double Distillery, and none of that soapy finish I found in the Double Distillery.
I prefer the Mizunara Wood Reserve to the Double Distillery, it doesn’t have the odd finish of the DD, although both are lacking complexity, I like that the notes of the MWR stands out a lot more, allowing me to get a good understanding of the influence. From these two drams I find they both have things in common: peppery spicy notes. Both whiskies enters your mouth and starts tingling your tongue with pepper notes. Overall, good to experience, but there are better Japanese whiskies out there even with my limited experience with Japanese whiskies. I much prefer Nikka From the Barrel, and Yamazaki 12 to both of these.