Chichibu Chibidaru 2009


Distillery/Brand: Chichibu
Region: Japan
ABV: 53.5%
Colour: Young Sauternes

Nose: 22
Taste: 20
Finish: 21
Balance: 21

I must be honest. I have a soft spot for anything that comes out of the Land of the Rising Sun. I love the assertive flavors but more than that I simply love the way they package their spirits. There is a graphic design case study in each bottle.

This particular Chichibu is a 2009 vintage bottled in 2013 making it barely legal (sorry, couldn’t resist!). It’s been nurtured in the Japanese version of the Quarter Cask to accelerate the maturation process. This quarter cask is known as the Chibidaru. Unlike the Scottish QC which has less staves this one actually has the staves shortened and re-purposed.

Brought out at a tasting for my whisky club it was a hit or miss expression with some of the members loving it and some not overly impressed. I was not overly impressed.

Nose: Lots of tropical fruits. Papaya. Mango. Overripe papaya. Overripe mango. Like taking all the fruits together and mulching them in a wooden bowl. And then sprayed with a buttery biscuit maltiness to create an almost humid environment. It’s not bad, mind you.

(A glass was left for over an hour to breathe and these are the collective nosing notes of the society members for that experiment: jaggery, Christmas cake, nutmeg, almonds, butterscotch, cinnamon, cardamom, peach and star anise. It actually became quite intense.)

Palate: I found it a little weird. Something not quite right about it. Very overripe papaya which I don’t mind terribly but I draw the line at stale coconut oil. It is my least favorite flavor and it came through quite strongly. There are also dark red fruits with a black pepper sprinkle but the oily coconut is too distracting for me.

Finish: Medium with a black pepper spiciness.

With so many members liking this expression I think I will re-visit it and try and eke out the positives. Till then I will choose to remain unimpressed.

Rating: 84


Laphroaig Quarter Cask


Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
ABV: 48%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 23
Taste: 24
Finish: 23
Balance: 24

Here I go trying to review a gem that’s been put through it’s paces and come out in spades. But who cares?

The Quarter Cask is a stroke of Laphroigian genius!

Familiar Islay aromas creep out from my snifter glass as I try and keep pace with a barrage of sensory fireworks. A damp, musty muscovado fruitiness is the first thing that arrests your senses. And then nestled within the woody nuts lies the unmistakable smoky peat which is covered in a thick layer of honey, sausages, wood varnish and old cardboard cartons.

Don’t look at me like that! You know what I mean….

The full bodied palate is succulent honeycomb and nuts with something a touch bitter to give it a layer of mysteriousness. The citrusy sugars stand up with aplomb as the peppery spices cascade in to gently caress your taste buds.

A long and dry oaky finish rounds of one of the best 30 seconds malting experiences of my malting career.

Rating: 94