Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Whiskey Wednesday: Ichiro's Malt


As I mentioned a few weeks ago, thanks to a friend who travels regularly to Japan, I have been able to sample a number of Japanese whiskies that are not available in the US.

Other than the Suntory Yamazakis that are available in the States, two of the most common whiskies in Japan are Nikka Yoichi and Suntory Hakushu. I tried the 12 year old Hakushu and a Yoichi without an age statement. The Yoichi was good with a similar flavor profile to the Yamazakis (malty, a bit smoky) but was a bit less smooth.

I didn't care as much for the Hakushu which was a lighter style whiskey, similar to a Glenlivet or other typical Speysider...just not my cup of tea.

Most recently, my pal was able to snag me a couple of Ichiro's Malts, which he found difficult to acquire even in Japan. Ichiro's Malts, according to the label, come from the Hanyu distillery in the town of Hanyu on the Tone River. The distillery was closed in 2000 and dismantled in 2004, but the founder's grandson is apparently trying to start it back up.

These whiskies were on par with the best of Scotland. The 15 year old was bold and smoky with subtle fruity notes. The 20 year old was extremely complex and well balanced. There was light smoke, fruit and just a lot going on flavor-wise. It's an enchanting and intriguing whiskey, one of those that you look forward to tasting again and again because, like rereading a Tolstoy novel, each time you do, you find something new and interesting.

If you're ever lucky enough to get to Japan, get some Ichiro's Malt.

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