For the second release of TWE’s Chichibu Martial Arts Trilogy, you’ll need to wait until the 27th -28th September for the next ballot to open on the TWE website (with results being issued quickly on the 29th). There’s a limited number of bottles of this one – just 119 – stemming from the fact that it has been disgorged from a quarter cask – otherwise known in Chichibu parlance as a Chibidaru (“cute cask”). Similarly to the other releases of the Trilogy you’re looking at a sticker price of £250.
Nose: Initially surprisingly medicinal with iodine and antiseptic set against more vegetal peat notes of smouldering leaf mulch. At the core is the characteristic Chichibu fruitiness – apricot, peach, Mirabelle and a glug of apple juice. Floral notes of sunflowers and field heather following alongside asides of dusty ash, char and caramel. Adding water results in a dramatic transformation with the fruit to the front and the smoke to the back – bright, syrupy stone fruits very much in control of the now slightly mineral peat smoke.
Taste: Happy place. Arriving with bright, slightly polished apricots before morphing into wet and earthy peat smoke that sits alongside lemon-imbued floor cleaner. The development brightens things up considerable with barley sugars, orange zest and a melange of pine needles and warming cask spices. Again dilution is offers a reframing – huge, prominent fruitiness favouring syrupy stone fruit salad together with polished oak surfaces and rocky smoke consigned to a back-palate support role.
Finish: Medium to long with chiselled granite, fading damp smoke and a waft of cooling mint.
Quite remarkable. There are effectively two whiskies in here. The first at the bottled strength of 59.5% still has the expected distillery fruit-forward character, but it is enveloped in a firm blanket of inland/coastal smoke. The second at a reduced strength offers a striking rebalancing with the fruit and sweetness fully unleashed and the peat influence reduced to supporting act. That’s both complexity and adaptability – and I find myself becoming a quick fan of both the original and the remix. Easy pick of the Trilogy for me.
Review sample provided by The Whisky Exchange