Chichibu

Posted 22 June 2018

Over the years, the global whisky industry has developed and innovated though interdependence – the sharing or knowledge, the sharing of expertise and the sharing of casks to name but a few. A well-known, but always prime example being the symbiotic relationship between the US bourbon industry and the Scottish malt whisky industry – the former using fresh barrels once, the latter requiring a constant source of pre-seasoned wood for a number of fills and refills. Over the past decade, this interdependence has broadened into other categories such as rum and increasingly wine. In Japan, Chichibu distillery has continued with this spirit of innovation and interdependence, but, in 2017 managed to take it one stage further with the creation of the Chichibu IPA Cask Finish – an instance of perfect cask symbiosis.


Posted 18 June 2018

Whilst each year that passes I grow older, it seems that as the same time whisky is getting younger. Every week brings news of either a new 3 year old release, or the discontinuation of an existing bottling and its replacement with a younger (or NAS – which will be younger) version. Some of this young whisky isn’t all that great, whilst other distillate hold a ton of promise for the future. But, many of these new bottlings are selling on that promise – commanding the prices of far superior spirit, but not delivering the equivalent quality. There is however a young distillery who’s spirit is of such high excellence that bottlings already offer much more than just promise. It’s based 100km North East of Tokyo and was born out of the ashes of the Japanese whisky downturn. This week’ The Dramble is going to be focussing on the already renowned Chichibu.


Posted 20 June 2018

Throughout life, sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time and other times it’s unfortunately quite the opposite. The same is true of the whisky industry – bottlings capturing the zeitgeist, conversely distilleries closing due to ill-judged timing or just sheer bad luck. The story of the building of Chichibu manages to cover both these twists of fate, but now its future is firmly in the hands of Ichiro Akuto and his dedicated team – they’re making their own luck.


Posted 19 June 2018

Japanese oak - quercus mongolia – mizunara – all one and the same thing. This type of wood is indigenous to Japan, but also grows in China, Korea and (perhaps unsurprisingly given the name) Mongolia. Shorter and less tightly grained than American oak (quercus alba), mizunara is both expensive and sought after. It is expensive because of its somewhat limited supply – it is sought after, not only for its uses within the Japanese whisky industry, but also for its proprieties as a high quality material for furniture construction. In Japan, mizunara oak is not simply purchased, ready for coopering, it is auctioned – whisky houses and furniture producers all bidding against each other to purchase this valuable resource.


Posted 21 June 2018

Whilst a hogshead is a hogshead and a butt is usually a butt, not all quarter casks are made to identical dimensions and therefore capacities. See, it depends exactly what you’re taking a quarter of as your baseline  – if you’re looking at an American Standard Barrel (ASB) which has a capacity of around 190 -200 litres, then relative to this a quarter cask is going to be around 50 litres. But, if you’re looking at a hogshead with a capacity of 250 litres then your quarter point is closer to 62.5 litres. To further add more cloudiness, I’ve seen quite a number of distilleries that list the capacity of their QCs as 80 litres – which would be around a quarter of a puncheon (320 litres). Honestly, it’s all a bit confusing. More of a guideline than an actual code.


Posted 06 October 2017

In 1941 Isouji Akuto built the now fabled (and sadly demolished) Hanyu distillery, obtaining a license to produce alcohol 5 years later in 1946. Following a period of deep recession and a huge downturn in the Japanese whisky market, the distillery closed shortly after the turn of the Century. Ichiro Akuto, grandson of Isouji purchased the remaining stocks of Hanyu and warehoused them with local sake maker Sasanokawa Shuzo whilst founding a new company – Venture Whisky.


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