About Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries Chichibu x Komagatake 2021 Japanese Whisky
For nearly three centuries, Ichiro Akuto’s family brewed sake along the banks of the Tone River in Central Japan. Following the end of World War II, his family received a distiller’s license and purchased two second-hand stills from a Scottish distillery. By the turn of the century, however, his father had made the difficult decision to dismantle the stills and sell the 400 casks of remaining whisky that were still maturing in the distillery’s rickhouses.
Fueled by a belief in the potential for Japanese single malts, Ichiro purchased the casks from his father. He went to study distillation techniques at Benriach and Springbank Distillery, before returning to Japan and constructing a state-of-the-art distillery in Chichibu, the Saitama prefecture. The small distillery opened its doors in 2008 and has only 9 full-time employees. The climate of Chichibu with its hot and humid summers and cold winter temperatures is perfect for distilling whisky, while the famous Arakawa River provides excellent water. The distillery imported the equipment as well as the peat from Scotland, while the malt and barley come from England and Germany. Their current output is around 90,000 liters per year.
Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries Chichibu X Komagatake sees the Chichibu Distillery collaborate with the Mars Shinshu distillery. Mars Shinshu is Japan’s highest whisky distillery, at 798 meters ― just over 2,600 feet ― nestled between Japan’s Southern and Central Alps. Mars Shinshu is owned by the Hombo family, who have been in the business of distillation for over a century.
The blend of both whiskies was matured at the Chichibu distillery. Born of a desire for Japanese distilleries to be able to trade casks just like the Scottish ones do, the whisky was aged in a combination of ex-bourbon, American oak, and sherry casks. Limited to 10,200 bottles, this expression clocks in at 107 proof.
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About Japanese Whisky
Although maybe not be the first Spirit you would think of when Japan is mentioned; the Japanese make one of the best types of whisky in the world. It’s heavily influenced by scotch but with smoother and delicate notes.
The history of the Japanese whisky is not even a century old, but in this short time, the Japanese blended and single malts have taken over the world by storm and can easily go against their whisk(e)y counterparts from across the globe.