Chichibu Chibidaru 2009

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

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

Review
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 Cairdeas Masters Edition

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Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
ABV: 57.3%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 23
Taste: 22
Finish: 22
Balance: 23

Review
The first time I had a chance to drink this 2010 Festival release from Laphroaig was with a bunch of friends. Quite fitting since Cairdeas is Gaelic for Friendship.

This is another un-Laphroaig-ian nose that I have encountered of late. Are they toning their spirits down? I hope not. I mean I love how this one smells. I just hope they don’t change their style completely and by that I mean the Quarter Cask, the 10 and the 18.

The nose is an instant drop of lovely cashew nuts and mixed dry fruits. Boiled lemon sweets dipped in malt, drizzled with delicate sugar syrup and sprayed with a lovely peaty mist. The nose is delicate yet assertive. Is it too delicate? Well, yes when compare to standard Laphroaigs. But that’s just me being too picky.

The smooth, oily palate comes tumbling with sugars and crushed lemon rind and melon drops. The late cardamom spices step in to remind you that this is not all child’s play. Not as complex as I would have liked but highly likable nonetheless.

The long finish is a bit chalky and dries towards the end but I quite like the dry spice and mocha coffee beans it brings along with it.

I think this is a wonderfully restrained dram. The only fault I would find is that it did not really let it’s hair out on the palate.

Would I drink this again?

Well, what do you think I’m drinking right now?

Rating: 90