Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chichibu Single Cask for Sushi+Soul / Bar Zoetrope

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

Doesn’t happen every day: two of our favourite Japanese whisky hangouts joined hands and bottled a stunning Chichibu single cask together. They couldn’t be farther apart geographically (Sushi+Soul is in Munich, Germany; Bar Zoetrope in Tokyo, Japan), but their respective owners – Chris Herbst and Atsushi Horigami – share the same passion for Japanese whisky. Incidentally, this is the first time a single cask Chichibu was bottled for a European customer other than LMdW. Without further ado, let’s give it a try…
Chichibu 2009/2014, 1st Fill Bourbon Barrel #609, 61.6%abv, joint bottling for Sushi+Soul (Munich, Germany) & Bar Zoetrope (Tokyo, Japan)

On the nose, the initial impressions are a lush forest in springtime (new plank, shrubs and grass); then, a lovely ‘dirty’ sweetness hits you (honey on toast, agave syrup, marshmallow fudge) followed by light fruity elements (orchard fruits mainly: apricots, pears, apples) as well as some fresh ginger. Underneath it all, there’s a vague suggestion of lard and grilled burdock. Given time, the sweeter elements begin to dominate, but if you leave it for about 10 minutes, the fruit starts gaining in prominence. It’s a really dynamic whisky…
The attack on the palate is slightly bitter (bitter oranges and candied grapefruit peel), which develops into the orchard fruits hinted at by the nose (but in ‘abstract’ form – like in soft candy). You also get clear cereal notes, brown sugar on toast and hints of steamed new potatoes and burdock soup. It is so drinkable, even at this relatively young age and high abv – the Chichibu paradox!

The finish is long and sweet but with a slightly bitter edge… a bit like eating slightly burnt toast drizzled with Manuka honey and a bit of peach on the side. With water, you lose some of the tertiary notes on the nose, and it becomes a bit sweeter on the palate. I prefer it without and, as said before, the abv is no obstacle whatsoever.
If you’re in Germany, this is worth making a detour for (to Sushi+Soul) and if you’re in Japan, head to Zoetrope. The labels are different and there’s more bottles in Germany (2/3 of the outturn), but I wouldn’t wait too long either way… word is already getting around that this is a pretty superb Chichibu.

Fresh Bourbon wood works a treat for Chichibu, but how does it respond to sherry? Join us again tomorrow, when we review two recent sherried Chichibus (a PX and an Oloroso).

4 comments:

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Cynthia said...

I recently had a chance to visit the Shot Bar Zoetrope for the first time and sampled all three of the anniversary drams - the Hanyu, the Akashi and the Chichibu. As a cask strength lover, I have to admit they were all divine. Not all at once (as I let a bit of time do its work), but throughout the tasting, I find myself liking a different one at a different time. The Akashi was surprisingly sublime. Hope to do this again on my next trip over during Whisky Festival.

Anonymous said...

Can the Chichibu be purchased at Zoetrope?

Stefan Van Eycken said...

It can be purchased by the dram for consumption there. It is not possible to buy a whole bottle and/or take it off the premises.