Monday, April 14, 2014

The Colour Joker

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

The much-anticipated Jokers are finally among us – or are they? They sure seem to be elusive. We thought it was high time someone cut through the oohs and the aahs and actually opened one. So without further ado, this is what the colour Joker told us…
© Stefan Van Eycken
On the nose, it’s got all the characteristics of vintage Hanyu, lush and hyper-fragrant as it is. The initial impressions are sandalwood, furniture polish, oregano, thyme and incense. Then, you get guimauves, candied apples, marzipan, maraschino cherries but also some gentle savoury notes (iberico ham, barbecue ribs with cranberry sauce, chicken liver paté) and a hint of saffron. If you give it time in the glass, you’ll discover all sorts of little aromas: green apple peel, tiny perfumy notes (memories of a diva’s dressing room), toasted coconut flakes, Seville orange marmalade, shortbread, Yubari melon hi-chew, marron glacé, raspberry macarons, pomegranate syrup and soft caramel (nama caramel).

The attack on the palate is all spice and citrus: Seville orange marmalade again, dark chocolate with shichimi togarashi and some raspberry sorbet thrown in for good measure. Then, you get grapefruit peel, yuzu candy, cereal notes (oat bran), hints of crème caramel and a touch of fennel. The finish is medium-long and quite dry, on dried apple mango, aniseed, tamarind and Orangina.

With water, you get more orchard fruits (apple compote, peach sauce) on the nose, and assorted berries with fresh mint and balsamic vinegar. The fennel is more pronounced and there is a tiny wisp of wood smoke (think maple wood chips). Water softens the flavours on the palate and tones down the spicy elements quite a bit. Everything is more polished and harmonized. You also get more butterscotch and a suggestion of warabi mochi with kinako and kuromitsu.  Water also considerably lengthens the finish, with spice giving way to Italian fruit jam tartlet cookies.

The colour Joker is not an either/or dram when it comes to water. It’s best to spend some time with it undiluted and then add a few drops of water and stay with it a bit more. First, you experience the kaleidoscopic intensity of the whisky.  Then, you lose yourself in the radiance of its sustained harmony.

The colour Joker is a beautiful adieu to Ichiro’s iconic card series, and for those who have had the good fortune to experience some of the drams in the series, this omnibus release (which is a vatting of whisky distilled between 1985 and 2000, finished in a wide variety of casks) will undoubtedly bring back memories of particular cards (Four of Spades, Nine of Diamonds, etc.) It’s a whisky to treasure, but remember, you treasure it by drinking it - so if you are lucky to get your hands on a bottle, do open it and share it with friends. It will taste even better...
One Joker getting close to its final destiny...

1 comment:

Chris Bunting said...

Fascinating review. Totally agree with the drinking it and sharing it point