...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Hanyu 15 year old 2000 Ichiro's Malt, The Final Vintage

After having produced sake for three centuries, the Akuto family founded the Hanyu distillery during World War II. Though they gained a post-war license to distill, Hanyu focused entirely on grain whisky until 1980 when two pot stills were installed. The distillery was closed in 2000, then dismantled in 2004. Ichiro Akuto bought up the remaining stock and has since released it under his brand, Ichiro's Malt. He also went into the family business in 2004 with the opening of his Chichibu distillery.

This will be my first Hanyu experience, and probably my last unless I can find a pour whenever I go back to Japan. Please don't look at the prices of Hanyus on the secondary market. They will make you cry.

Distillery: Hanyu
Bottler: Ichiro Akuto
Region: Japan, Saitama Prefecture
Age: 15 years (2000 - 2015)
Maturation: ???
Outturn: 3710
Alcohol by Volume: 46.5%
(from a bottle split)

The nose begins with digestive biscuits, anise and mint. Loose genmaicha, cloves and an ultra-nutty sherry (Amontillado?). Fresh hay, dried parsley and dried thyme. Whiffs of mocha and toffee puddings appear after some time. The austere(!) palate starts off very nutty as well, but more on raw nuts than toasted ones. Perhaps walnuts and almonds. Hints of flowers and ginger beer. A bitter stout. It gradually develops tart citrus and hops notes after 30+ minutes in the glass. The long, warm finish has that hops note as well, along with citrus, flowers, molasses, black pepper and something almost smoky.

This lean striking Hanyu drifts away from familiar single malt characteristics into dry sherry and Charbay-like distilled beer territory. Though I just typed those words, I'm not sure I agree with them, such are the unique qualities of this whisky. If you do get a chance to try this whisky, I highly encourage you not to add water since it turns tannic and papery with just a few drops. Ichiro may have found the best ABV right at 46.5%. In any case, I appreciate trying something so different, and I wish I had more of this to study!

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - High
Rating - 88 (neat only)