Friday, October 24, 2014

Chichibu PX & Oloroso: 2 Single Casks for Modern Malt Market Tokyo 2014

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

All of our reviews so far of single cask Chichibus have been of ex-bourbon ones. Last month, at Modern Malt Market in Tokyo, a pair of sherried Chichibu single casks were released – a “PX” (Pedro Ximenez) and an “Oloroso” – so we figured this was the perfect time to check how the Chichibu spirit interacts with ex-sherry wood.
Chichibu 2010/2014 “Oloroso”, Spanish Oak Hogshead #2622, 59.8%abv (338btls.)
Chichibu 2010/2014 “PX”, Spanish Oak Hogshead #2640, 59.7%abv (275btls.)

On the nose, the PX is characterized by stewed fruits, porridge, baby formula, liquorice allsorts, spices and bread dough. There are hints of croissant aux amandes and aromatic bitters, too, but some slightly rubbery notes, as well. It is obviously young on the nose – atypically for bottled Chichibu! – and is somewhat reminiscent of similarly young, sherried Eigashimas.

With the Oloroso, the initial impressions are throat candy, herbal bonbons, pine trees as well as assorted floral, grassy and fresh herbal (sage, thyme) elements. There are also suggestions of blueberry jam and it is, at times, almost cognac-like. On the nose, the Oloroso wins.
On the palate, the PX is very spicy and fiery. You get stewed fruits again together with fruit cake and orange marmalade, but there are strong undefined sour and bitter undertones that obstruct the flavour interaction quite a bit. The finish is long on dark chocolate and (uncandied!) grapefruit peel.
Back to the Oloroso then. After a sharp lime attack, it goes through a short but very sweet phase (Buddy Fruits, cuberdons, Butterfinger) before developing along more sour and bitter lines, again. The finish is long and lingering on white pepper, orangettes and kimchi chocolate.

Water makes the PX somewhat more approachable but really cranks up the sour and bitter levels on the Oloroso.

As early exponents of sherried Chichibu these two single cask releases are interesting, but they feel very much like works in-progress. It should be pointed out, however, that these two specimens only spent a little under / over a year in ex-Oloroso / PX Spanish oak hogsheads (10 and 14 months, resp.). There have been some absolutely stellar ex-bourbon Chichibus in recent months, but it’s clear that Mother Nature and Father Time have their work cut out for them when it comes to the Chichibu spirit maturing in sherry wood...

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