...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Things I Really Drink: Chichibu 2015, cask 5262 for TWE

I am not in the habit of spending this kind of money on a single bottle of whisky, and I am not in the habit of entering bottle lotteries. But I do love me some Chichibu, and when The Whisky Exchange announced a lottery for an exclusive single bourbon cask of this Japanese single malt, I thought, "What the hell, LOL."

I entered. I "won". I paid the money. I got the bottle. I am fortune's fool. (That's what the Montague kid meant, right?)

The label is pretty sweet, with its Sportflix-style 3D karate action. There was no creepy giant wooden casket and pillow for the bottle to lay upon, thank goodness. They kept the kanji minimal too.

Secondary market FOMO for this bottle has been bizarre. During the month of its release, the bottle was flipped in auctions for more than thrice its price. But four months later it gavelled for twice its original price. Maybe that isn't bizarre. Perhaps FOMO's half life is evaporating in real time.

Anyhoo, I chose to open the bottle for New Year's Eve 2023 because OMG this planet. Then I did an official tasting on my half-birthday (the 24th of February, in case you've forgotten). Kanpai!

Distillery: Chichibu #1
Location: Saitama Prefecture, Japan
Ownership: Venture Whisky
Range: Martial Arts Trilogy
Age: 5 or 6 years (2015 - 2021)
Maturation: bourbon cask
Outturn: 233 bottles
Exclusive to: The Whisky Exchange
Alcohol by Volume: 59.5%
(from my silly bottle!)

For this tasting, I tried the whisky diluted first, but I'm listing the notes in my usual order.


The nose has at least three levels. Mangoes, guavas, and a honey-lemon syrup sits on top. Moss, dried herbs, and paprika fill the middle. Pastry dough stays on the bottom. The palate is hot AF. I needed to let it sit for 30 minutes in order to approach it properly. THEN: lychee, lemons, apricots, and yellow plums. The long finish has those apricots and yellow plums, but also a slight floral side. It gets tarter with time.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Oh, yeah. Kiwis, mangoes, gingerbread, molasses, and citrons hit the nose first. Then guava juice and orange oil, followed by new jasmine blossoms. The palate is gloriously fruity. Guavas, grapefruits, raspberries, and lemons. But there's also a distinct barley characteristic that turns into a digestive biscuit note with a gentle floral hint underneath. The fruits' tartness keeps the sweetness in check. The fruit basket continues into the finish: limes, lemons, grapefruits, raspberries, and Kasugai yuzu gummies (sorry, one Japanese reference).


This is kind of fabulous. (The TIRD luck continues.) The fruit juice style is tailored to my current palate, though it demands dilution. When the whisky is neat, the nose needs a long time to wake up, and the palate is much too sharp. But at 46%abv, it's all lovely, every bit of it. As I've said before, I have no idea how they've achieved this quality this quickly and consistently. So far, Chichibu is the real deal, holding up better than any other aggressively-hyped new distillery.

But is this whisky worth the $1100 or $700 secondary prices? Is it worth $300? I don't know anymore. But it will very likely be the only bottle of Chichibu I'll ever own, and it continues to be an excellent whisky. And that's as much as I can sort out. If you have this bottle, I hope you open it and share it with friends.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - It's up to The Furies and Whims of the marketplace
Rating - 90 (diluted)

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