Ichiro had always planned to continue his family’s tradition; however he wanted to get some outside work experience first. Therefore, after graduating from the Tokyo University of Agriculture, he applied for a job at Suntory, hoping to get inside knowledge of their brewing techniques. What he got instead was a job in the marketing department, which proved to be more useful than he anticipated as he learned a trick or two about marketing himself and his company. His timing for opening up his own distillery also proved spot-on, as Japanese whiskies were starting to win international awards.
Ichiro is an ambitious man. He is not interested in being just another whisky maker; he wants to stand out. In order to do so the staff of the Chichibu distillery travels annually to the UK where they study the newest techniques for brewing. When they return they use this newly found knowledge to improve on the company’s whisky. They also constantly experiment, trying out new casks, materials and techniques in order to better their product. Many of the whiskies from the Chichibu distillery are fermented in Japanese oak (“Mizunara”) barrels, a rare and extremely delicate wood which imparts a peculiar taste and aroma.
Evidently this work has paid off: Ichiro’s Malt has won the Golden Award in the UK’s Whisky Magazine. Notable products from the distillery include the Double Distilleries, which is essentially a blend of malts from both the Hanyu and Chichibu distilleries. Then there is the Wine Wood Reserve which, as the name suggests, is fermented in wine wooden barrels and the Mizunara reserve. The distillery has also recently released limited edition single malts like Chichibu The First, Chichibu The Floor and Chichibu The Peated.
Ichiro’s whisky is popular among whisky lovers all around the world. Unlike whiskies from the larger distilleries, it has the look and feel of a small distiller who puts everything he has into each and every bottle.