We’re now nearing the end of July and that means it’s time for us to highlight another of our favourite Japanese whiskies from one of the country’s fastest growing and most popular producers as our Whisky of the Month. This time around, it’s a magnificent creation from Ichiro’s Malt.
Run by Ichiro Akuto,who’s family owned the legendary Hanyu Distillery, the brand is responsible for a range of exquisite blended whiskies and world blended expressions, as well as single malt whisky produced at the incredible Chichibu distillery. They are widely regarded as one of the best producers in all of Japan and they are also seen as a beacon of honesty and transparency in the industry.
Throughout the years, their whiskies have grown increasingly popular, and due to many of them being small batch releases, some bottlings are now highly collectible, popping up at auction houses around the world and fetching rather lofty fees per bottle.
Today, we’re taking a look at a whisky that has become a staple of Ichiro’s fans everywhere. It’s a bottling that brings a delicate and complex balance of aromas and flavours to the table and keeps you coming back for another glass time and time again – It’s the Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve.
Mizunara Maturation: What’s It All About?
The maturation process for this whisky was done solely in Mizunara wood, a Japanese oak that is notoriously hard to work with and takes long periods of time to be ready for use. Mizunara oak trees can take as much as 200 years to reach a usable size, while the wood is also hard to bend and shape without cracking or breaking it.
As a result, Mizunara matured whisky is often said to be more luxurious than that matured in bourbon or sherry wood and the expressions created in this way are highly sought after today.
On the face of it, you may think Mizunara wood is used by Japanese producers to make their whiskies stand apart from the crowd, and that may be somewhat true today, however, the wood was initially used out of necessity more than anything else.
At the end of World War 2, when people in Japan had developed a taste for locally produced whisky, distilleries were unable to import casks from Europe and the United States. As a result, they had to find an alternative and Mizunara oak fitted the bill perfectly.
It was used by many across the industry until such a time that the cheaper European and American oak casks were available for import once again, at which time we saw the use of this distinctive wood type fall away.
In recent times, we have seen a resurgence in the use of Mizunara wood, with famous expressions like the Hibiki 21 Year Old and Yamazaki 18 Year Old utilising this unique form of maturation, and the results are quite often phenomenal.
The Ichiro’s Malt MWR is a pure malt whisky that was matured, vatted and bottled at the world famous Chichibu distillery. As a pure malt expression, it was created from a range of single malts that were carefully blended together by the whisky masters at the distillery to deliver a range of compelling tasting notes that are as good as any we have tried in this category.
While the exact whiskies that go into this fantastic bottling have not been disclosed, it is believed that it contains a large portion of fairly young spirit distilled at Chichibu. The Chichibu distillery are experts at creating smooth, delicious whiskies, no matter the age, and that is once again on display in this expression.
It was matured entirely in the famous Mizunara wood and this has resulted in a distinctive flavour profile that features a range of unique, fruity flavours and spices.
On the nose, it brings freshly sliced apple, plum, sweet honey and a gentle hints of incense and sandalwood. The palate follows with the fruity sweetness of apples and oranges that combine with an obvious fragrant woodiness, before notes of grapefruit and white pepper cut through them and refresh the palate. The finish holds for a medium length of time, with vanilla, caramel and more white pepper spice making themselves known.
It’s a sweet and gently spicy whisky that takes your taste buds on a swirling journey from still to glass. The Mizunara wood has had a very obvious effect on the spirit, making it stand apart from other bottles on the shelf and delivering a number of unique spices not often found in bourbon or sherry matured whisky.
It’s a superb creation, as we have come to expect from Ichiro, and at its current price point, it allows you to get a taste of the world-beating whisky producer’s liquid, without investing in one of the more collectible, single cask releases.
Order Online Today
If you’re keen to try the Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve, simply order online today and we’ll deliver your bottle to your door.