Once again, it’s time for our Whisky of the Month. For May, we’ve selected a bottle that has helped catapult the World Blended Whisky category to the forefront of everyone’s mind, while delighting thousands of noses and palates along the way – it’s the Ichiro’s Malt World Blended Whisky 2020.
Ichiro’s and World Blended Whiskies
By this point, we’re all aware of the regulatory issues that have plagued the Japanese whisky industry over the last decade. The bombshell news that many “Japanese whiskies” were in fact world blended whiskies, created using imported Scotch, led to a great deal of distrust from customers globally, and rightly so.
Thankfully, the recent introduction of new labelling standards, that require producers to distil, mature and bottle their whisky inside Japan in order to call in Japanese whisky, has managed to quell some of those worries and has already led to a more transparent industry.
However, it’s not just the responsibility of the regulators to ensure customers are not being misled about the authenticity of the product they are buying. The producers also have a responsibility to be honest, and if there is one producer in particular who is a shining example of how to do this correctly, it’s Ichiro’s Malt.
Responsible for the Chichibu distillery, as well as the bottling of remaining stock from the legendary Hanyu distillery, and a number of Japanese blends and World Blended whiskies, they are a beacon of transparency in an industry that has perhaps been slightly lacking in such virtues until now.
When they release a single malt Chichibu, everything from the barley used, to the distillation and bottling dates, is displayed on the label, allowing buyers to feel happy in the knowledge that they are getting a whisky which is as advertised.
Ichiro’s Malt approach the creation of their blended expressions similarly, and while they don’t always include info on exactly which distilleries the individual components of the blend came from, they were one of the first companies to clearly differentiate between blends made from Japanese whisky, and blends that contain imported liquids.
In fact, it could be said that it was Ichiro’s who launched the World Blended Whisky category. At the very least, it was them who shot the category to worldwide fame and popularity.
The Ichiro’s World Blended Range
Ichiro’s Malt launched their World Blended range in 2018 with the inaugural Ichiro’s Malt World Blended Whisky. It was carefully crafted by their master blenders, who possess a plethora of skill and experience, who worked with whisky from both Japan and overseas to create a well-rounded and ultimately delicious expression.
It thrust the World Blended Category to the forefront of everyone’s attention and it’s quality quickly helped to wash away the perception that it is in some way wrong to blend whisky from different countries around the world.
Through the release of their World Blended Whisky range, Ichiro’s helped to show the possibilities within the industry when everyone is working towards the same goal – producing stunning expressions – while remaining open at the same time.
Ichiro’s Malt World Blended Whisky 2020
The Ichiro’s Malt World Blended Whisky 2020 is our favourite expression in the range to date. It was created using whisky from the Chichibu distillery, blended together with whisky from Scotland, the USA, Canada and Ireland.
The master blenders behind the bottling have clearly taken a great deal of time and care over the expression, managing to carefully balance the whiskies from each region to create a delicate, fruity, complex and infinitely intriguing release.
It brings gentle vanilla and coconut on the nose that start off quietly before the whisky opens up with pear, lemon zest and floral honey. The palate follows with creamy toffee, honey, more vanilla and hints of sweet citrus. This is all backed up by subtle peppercorn and cinnamon spice that work in tandem with the fruity notes, resulting in a truly balanced tasting experience. The finish is medium to long and leaves spiced vanilla and sweet fruits lingering.
Not only is this the finest world blended whisky we have tried yet, but it also ranks up there with the best Japan produced blends we have ever tasted, and, in our humble opinion, could compete with the likes of the Hibiki expressions in terms of overall drinking experience.
It shines light on what is possible within this new, ever-growing category of whisky, and the interest the range has garnered over the years shows that drinkers around the world are more than happy to enjoy World Blends, as long as it’s labelled and marketed with honesty and respect for the liquid.
It’s for these reasons that we have to tip our hat to Ichiro’s for their work in progressing the Japanese whisky industry in recent years and have chosen the Ichiro’s Malt World Blended Whisky 2020 as our Whisky of the Month for May.
If you haven’t tried this unique limited release yet, there’s never been a better time. Stocks are dwindling, however we still have some bottles left in store if you want to get your hands on one.