Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo
A few weeks ago, we reviewed two Chichibus for LMdW. Today, we’re spending some quality time with the Hanyu that completes this year’s Venture Whisky/LMdW triptych.
The initial impressions on the nose are: new furniture, smoked burdock and lots of ‘earthy’ notes – an autumn forest, decomposing fallen leaves, porcini, … In fact, this is a bit reminiscent of some post-1984 Karuizawas. It has a strong vegetal dimension, too, with potato gratin, leek mashed potatoes, turnips and a hint of spinach (with some fried bacon). There are some subtle floral notes in the background and a hint of grilled sardines. If you give it time in the glass, you get some beautiful balsamic-glazed apricots. What a feast.
On the palate, it’s like Hanyu on speed. Very thick, concentrated and compact, you get lots of orange preserve, tons of assorted candied citrus peel (with some candied ginger thrown in, too), spices (nutmeg, cloves), sweet-and-sour pork with pineapple and a little bit of foie gras. The finish is very long and coloured by a lovely sustained – but light! – bitterness (grapefruit albedo, kale).
Water transforms the experience so it’s good to have some handy. On the nose, it dials down the vegetables (which my son would love) and brings out more fruit, especially stewed fruits (peaches, mostly). On the palate, you get more of the subtleties involved: lotus root, yokan and kashiwa mocha. The finish is a bit controversial – some may find the increased bitterness too much, others will find it stimulating.
Having completed a tasting of the full Ichiro’s Card Series (which are all Hanyu, for those new to Japanese whisky) earlier this month, and then tasting a few recent Hanyu bottlings (that is to say, post-Card Series Hanyus), I am starting to feel that, for Hanyu, maybe the best is still to come… This bottling for LMdW certainly lends weight to that argument!