Chichibu 2014 Martial Arts Trilogy Beer Cask

Posted 24 August 2022 by Matt / In Chichibu
The Dramble reviews The Whisky Exchange Chichibu 2014 Martial Arts Trilogy Beer Cask

Bottle Name: Chichibu 2014 Martial Arts Trilogy Beer Cask

ABV: 59.5%
Distillery: Chichibu
Region: Japan

The final release of the TWE Chichibu Martial Arts Trilogy is a 2014 vintage cask (#11049) that was sent over to Tamamura Honten microbrewery near Nagano to make a limited release ‘Shiga Kogen’ Imperial IPA named ‘The Far East’. Clocking at a mighty between 13-16% ABV depending on the batch - reviews of the beer seem to peg it somewhere between a West Coast style triple/quad IPA (not messing!) and a barley wine.

No details of how long the brew was barrel aged for – but as you’ll read from my tasting notes below, the pickup from the cask is enormous. The ballot for this one will be open on the TWE website on the 25th and 26th October (draw on the 27th). No prizes for guessing either the bottled ABV or the price.

Nose: Floral, cereal and markedly beery. Pine needles, grapefruit and touches of bitter lemon give way to both maltiness and overt beer fermentation aromas. Pancake batter, apple blossom and Chichibu-esque stone fruits sit alongside pithy citrus hoppiness whilst explicit West Coast style ale (malty and highly resinous) runs throughout. Dilution holds the overall shape well – this is still 50% beer and 50% whisky. Cereal notes come to the fore with Cornflakes and crystal malts alongside background estery peaches.

Taste: By the power of Greyskull. Far from an inactive cask this. Orange marmalade and citrus peels join candied grapefruit whilst week-old beer ferment and malt loaf sits with apricot, peach and plenty of barley sugars. The development is entirely beer-led – again West Coast – dry, bitter and with prominent (hot) hop influence leached into the very heart of the whisky. Honestly, I’m at a loss as to what this spirit actually is now?! Water dials things down considerable with floral characters of elderflower sitting alongside a developing chalkiness.

Finish: Quite long. Lemon and orange peels, maltiness, resinous hops and cooling throat lozenge.

Wow. What just happened?! Where do I begin? Of the three releases in Whisky Exchange’s Martial Arts Trilogy this one is easily the most thought-provoking. But it’s also bloody weird.

Despite the combination of beer and whisky being something that on-paper should be very much up my alley – sadly this isn’t. I’m all for a specially selected niche cask having a central impact on the final shape of any given spirit – indeed, anything less and one should wonder what the point of utilising it was. However, this Shiga Kogen seasoned cask is just too robust and heavy duty to produce anything other than a whisky which expresses the constituents and character of the beer above everything else. Fascinating and challenging? Undoubtedly. Balanced and actually enjoyable? I’m far less sure. 

Review sample provided by The Whisky Exchange

Score: 80/100


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