Ichiro’s Malt: The Joker (Hanyu)

Country: Japan
Type: Single Malt
Bottler: Venture Whisky Ltd./Ichiro's Malts
ABV: 57.7%
Score: 96 points

Ichiro's Malt: The Joker. Image courtesy Venture Whisky, Ltd. The final bottling in Ichiro Akuto’s legendary series of playing-card labeled single malts from the closed Hanyu Distillery, which his family owned from 1946 until it closed in 2000. This whisky is vatted from six vintages of Hanyu distilled between 1985 and 2000 and matured in seven different types of casks, including Ichiro’s own “chibidaru” take on the quarter cask. His chibidaru casks are cut down from standard hogshead-size casks across the diameter, keeping the stave sizes consistent but creating a shorter, squatter version with new white oak heads that are wider in diameter than standard barrel heads.

The nose is, in a word, amazing! Pumpkin pie and the usual spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger dominate at first, then give way to brandy, red grapes, fig, and toffee while still maintaining a good balance. The taste can be described simply as “Nectar of the Gods” – smooth, creamy, and brandy-like at first, then the spices kick in with cinnamon, a touch of clove, vanilla, and sweet touches of honey, caramel, and brown sugar followed by a toffee note that comes in subtly as the spices begin to fade. The finish is dry and almost astringent, but the spices linger so long that you’d be tempted to charge them rent. An outstanding whisky! (October, 2014)


Mark Gillespie

I'm the host and executive producer of WhiskyCast.

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