Coming from the innovative and exciting Chichibu Distillery, Ichiro’s Malts never disappoint, and this Mizunara Wood Reserve is no different.
Ichiro’s Malt is a small brand that is challenging the big boys, taking on brands like Suntory and Nikka, who are top of their game.
The distillery at Chichibu was started by Ichiro Akuto, whose grandfather started the Hanyu Distillery and owned a sake brewery, which closed in 2000.
But what may have been a set back for the family, later proved to be quite successful for Akuto, who took on the two pot stills and remaining casks of Whisky.
Then in 2008, Akuto used the casks to set up Venture Whisky and sold what was left of the Whisky, some of it selling for record prices.
Today, the brand are renowned for creating malts that are deeply complex and intriguing.
Brand Ambassador Yumi Yoshikawa said in an interview with the Guardian, “If we were interested in just making balanced, easy-to-drink whiskies then we would inevitably have to compete with Suntory and Nikka, but we’re trying to do the opposite – making whiskies with character that are not necessarily balanced or easy to drink. That’s how we’re keeping our market share.”
The brand’s Mizunara Wood Reserve is a perfect example of why the brand is so successful.
This is a complex blend made from various single malts that have been vatted and matured in Mizunara casks, or Japanese oak.
The nose opens with light floral notes and lots of honey. It is like walking through a Japanese zen garden, with blossom filled trees all around.
Zesty citrus fruits and dew-covered grass are also there, adding a lovely refreshing note.
The palate is bold and refined, with more honey and fresh orchard fruit. The honey lends a mellow and smooth mouth feel. There is a delicate spice as well, which adds a little bit of heat.
More citrus fruits and floral notes appear, making it very well rounded. They play off each other and complement the sweetness of the honey.
A little hint of malt comes through, with toasted grains giving a lovely biscuity note towards the end.
The finish is strong and warming, with more spice and a little bit of fruit.
This is a wonderfully complex malt, with an intriguing flavour profile. It showcases all of the reasons that Ichiro’s Malt does so well.