Ichirio’s Malt Hanyu 1991 23YO Madeira Cask # 1386 54.1%

IMG_4017Nose: Earthy field mushrooms, creosote, licorice, apricots, furniture polish, fermented orange slices, a touch of brine. Water adds some pear and white flowers.
Palate: Candied orange slices, creosote, Brazil nuts, olive oil, salt, nutmeg, ginger cubes. Almost no woodiness after 23 years in an oak barrel. Water adds some menthol, almonds and nougat.
Finish: Over baked scones, ginger cubes, creosote, earthy, powder like cocoa powder but without the cocoa taste and the nougat with some water added.
Last Word: Not your typical Madeira cask matured whisky, less fruity/winey for sure. A really nice experience and while not cheap to buy, a lot cheaper than a Card Series Hanyu of the same vintage.

Rating: 88/100

Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu Salon de Shimaji Mizunara Heads 2000 14YO Cask 1504 57.7%

P1020589 (1)Nose: Some classic Hanyu notes of juicy stone fruits and aromatic woods. Red grapes, port pipe whisky, butter menthol’s, werther’s originals and white wine gums.
Palate: Sweet fruit sherbets, vanilla, werther’s originals, white peaches, nectarines, cocoa. Sandalwood, ginger bread and butter menthol’s.
Finish: White peaches, white nectarines, port pipe whisky, ginger bread, vanilla and butter menthol’s.
Last Word: Can’t really say what the Mizunara Heads adds to this one. Pretty much a classic style of Hanyu which I generally prefer over the cask finished versions.

Rating: 89/100

Ichiro’s Malt 5 of Diamonds 2000-2012 Sherry Cask Finish #1305 57.5% abv

Ichiro's Malt Five of DiamondsNose: Subtle sherry influence or more to the point, not a full blown sherry cask single malt. Quite yeasty not unlike homemade whole meal bread. Raisins, 5 spice, oak, pepper, golden syrup, barley, bran.
Palate: Volume(think loudness) goes up a fair whack compared to the nose. Golden syrup, honey, peanuts, apricots, raisins, cloves, melted butter, oak, 5 spice, salt and fresh ginger heat. A little water adds marzipan.
Finish: Medium length on golden syrup, cloves, caramelized orange slices, 5 spice. Something odd but not awful like devilled eggs(well if you like them). Drying oak.
Last Word: Nice balance between the first cask, hogshead, and the second cask, sherry. A touch of water doesn’t go astray. This one grew on me over the coarse of the tasting. Not a hint of sulphur and very nice at only 12 years old.

Rating: 86/100
*Note: Sample courtesy of Clint at Whiskies R Us.

Ichiro’s Malt the Game 5th Edition 2000-2013 #1302 59.5%abv

Ichiro's Malt the Game 5Nose: Screams Hanyu. Stewed apples, ripe apricots, currents, Japanese temples, strawberry jam, smooth oak.
Palate: Follows the nose closely and adds blueberries, maple syrup, honey, macadamias, nougat, custard powder, all-spice. Every sip a delight.
Finish: Incense, stewed fruits, blueberries, macadamias, all-spice, Wurthers Originals.
Last Word: Another excellent Hanyu from the Final Vintage. An expressive whisky, I only needed 15-20mls to write up the tasting notes. Very much reminiscent of Ichiro’s Malt The Game 2nd Edition.

Rating: 91/100

**Sample courtesy of Clint over at Whiskies R Us.

Ichiro’s Malt the Joker – In the Flesh!


Well in the flesh at Casa Dramtastic. Most readers would have seen some release images of these. I’ll go out on a limb and say this is the first time both of these have been shown to the general public by someone who now owns them. No need to go into any of the particulars of these bottling’s as you can read about that over at Whiskies R Us. My thoughts are around what it’s like to finally have these babies in my grateful hands.
First thing, is that I had my order in for over a year. Of course I didn’t now when the release would be but I knew I had to be ahead of the game to even have a chance. Nothing is set in stone either, some retailers will/have received an allocation, many won’t. I was lucky enough to be in contact with someone who did and who generously kept me in mind for one of each label. For me this is going to be hard to beat for Japanese whisky release of the year for a number of reasons. It is, as far as I know, the end of the Ichiro’s card series. No more cards or derivatives of playing card games up Akuto-sans sleeve so to speak. Also, the black and white labeled bottling of the Joker is now officially the oldest Hanyu released to date and the fact that it was finished in a Mizunara oak cask at that. No doubt a deliberate choice for a whisky of such significance. Finally, the colour label version of the Joker would seem to be the most ambitious vatting of different cask types of Hanyu yet.
In the photo, the whisky in the B&W Joker looks darker. This is not a trick of the light or angle of the photo, it is darker than the colour Joker. Could be because the colour Joker has some younger whisky in the mix, could be it’s a vatting of different cask types, could be a combination of both or none of the above. They both sure look tasty!
Now for the problem. The colour Joker I purchased for Y12777. In under a week these were already selling in Japan on the resale market for 5 times that price. I have not seen a bottle of the B&W Joker being resold yet, but heaven only knows what they will fetch when they do. That then put these in the, I can only dream of owning one these category for most whisky fans. Supply and demand can be a real bitch sometimes!
So, what am I going to do with mine? Stare at them un-opened for a while for a starters. The B&W will then be put away with the rest of my closed bottles. It’s such a wonderful piece of history that it will be a long time before it is opened. The colour label Joker, I guess I’ll crack that on a whim someday…….

Ichiro’s Malt Ace of Spades 1985-2005 Spanish Oak Sherry Wood Finish 1st Release 55%

p1010665Nose: A ton of leather and tobacco. Sherry drizzled toffee. Wood stain, figs, orange jus, white pepper, marzipan, nougat, prune juice, wet earth, peach jam.
Palate: Creamed sherry, tobacco leaf, leather, licorice, roasted chestnuts, almonds, orange jus, cloves, toffee, dried fruits.
Finish: Sherry, creamy nuts, nougat, leather, tobacco, licorice, dried fruits.
Final Word: The best sherry cask finished Ichiro’s Malt I have tried and a true piece of Japanese whisky history.

Rating: 89/100

Ichiro’s Malt Queen of Diamonds French Oak Cognac Cask Finish 1985-2007 58%

p1010664Nose: Soft and rounded. Earthy notes, oloroso sherry, oak, vanilla, dried fruits, mixed peel, apricots, fragrant woods.
Palate: Chinese five spice, dried fruits, fragrant woods, licorice, tobacco, leather and nougat. Tasty.
Finish: Long on the flavors of the palate and autumn leaves.
Last Word: Definitely more to discover with this one. To bad a full bottle is now out of my price range.

Rating: 89/100

Ichiro’s Malt Jack of Spades New Wood Finish 1990-2007 54%

p1010663Nose: Leather, oak, glazed oranges slices, sherry?, tobacco, mint leaves, molasses, potato skins, fresh peaches, pepper.
Palate: Sweet spices, vanilla, mixed nuts, chewy toffee, glazed orange slices, marzipan.
Finish: Marzipan, sweet spices, orange, vanilla, some ashy dryness. Water adds bubblegum, and creamy nuts.
Last Word: Quite complex for such a young whisky.

Rating: 87/100

Ichiro’s Malt Vintage Single Malt 1986-2007 58%abv

ichiros-malt-single-cask-1986-2Nose: Cantaloupe, white peach, licorice, strawberry flan, touch of burnt orange. After about 5 minutes some mild peat and dried seaweed.
Palate: Toffee, vanilla, licorice, camphor oil, white peach, burnt orange jus, nutmeg, marzipan and a little peat. Quite oily.
Finish: Burnt orange jus, toffee, licorice, peat, marzipan, the oily element continues and the vanilla returns on the finish with a little water added.
Last Word: Quite a brute really. There is an ever present base spirit element that diminishes the whole experience a few notches.

Rating: 87/100

Ichiro’s Malt 5 of Hearts 2000-2008 French Oak Cognac Cask Finish #9100 60%abv

p1010457Nose: Rich and deep. Rosehip, dried fruits, creamy nuts, burnt toast with a little vegemite, apricots, orange jus, peaches.
Palate: Vanilla, burnt brown sugar, glazed orange slices, creamed corn, bean curd, nutmeg, pepper, tobacco and a hint of cayenne.
Finish: Burnt toffee, white peaches, orange jus, tobacco, cashews, apricots, pepper and cayenne.
Last Word: Another fine young Hanyu.

Rating: 88/100

Ichiro’s Malt Single Cask 2000-2005 American Oak Puncheon #6076 60%abv

p1010460Nose: Young and spirity. Japanese pears fermented in cloudy sake. Loads of grunt. Apple cider, grilled pork, heavily lacquered teak, tobacco, icing sugar, white peaches.
Palate: Actually quite light compared to the nose. Vanilla, banana, oak, tobacco, toffee, pepper, fermented pears. Fairly simple.
Finish: Creamy nuts, vanilla, banana, icing sugar, pork fat.
Last word: Young but fun.

Rating: 85/100

Ichiro’s Malt The Game 2nd Edition 2000-2011 Mizunara Hogshead Finish #917 59.4%abv

ichiros-malt-the-game-2nd-edition-2000-11yo-59-4-917Nose: Classic Hanyu. Aromatic wood spices, fresh apricots and peaches, creamy oak, leather, buttered popcorn, almonds.
Palate: Smooth and creamy at 59%abv. Almonds, golden kiwi fruit, wood spices, coconut, pineapple, incense, orange sherbet, apricots, peaches.
Finish: Medium length and follows the palate closely.
Last Word: All class and totally moreish.

Rating: 91/100

Hanyu 1988-2007 No.1 Drinks Japanese Oak(Mizunara) Finished #9501 55.6%abv

hanyu-1988-2007-55-6-ob-cask-9501-japanese-oak-finish-352-bottlesNose: Smoked pork loin, orange peel, eucalyptus, seaweed, wood stain, fresh cut timber, linseed oil. Water adds an earthy element.
Palate: Fairly light. Candy all sorts, toffee, linseed oil, leather, walnuts, brazil nuts, menthol. Adding water neither adds or subtracts to my palate.
Finish: Short on brazil nuts, menthol, a little candy and leather.
Last Word: No discernible influence from its time in the Mizunara cask. The nose is the highlight.

Rating: 85/100

Hanyu 1986 22YO Part des Agnes Closed Distilleries #2812 58.4%


Nose: Bourbon barrel oak, aromatic woods(typical of Hanyu), caramel, peach candies, peach fuzz, sawdust and a little shoe polish.
Palate: Chocolate covered peach candies. A fair bit of oak, shoe polish, leather, tobacco, licorice and a bitter element. Water quells the bitterness somewhat and adds menthol, pine and nutmeg.
Finish: A little dry and bitter. Hints of guava, dragon fruit, bubblegum and pine. Water adds nutmeg, pine and ash.
Last Word: Not the most subtly nuanced of Hanyu’s. There is a bitter element that does not combine too well with the other flavors.

Rating: 85/100

Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu 2000 9YO Hogshead #8779 62.9%abv

ichiros-malt-single-cask-2000-9yo-8779-62-9Nose: Stewed pears, Stewed apples, bee’s wax, a bag of white peaches, licorice, raspberry conserve, light peat, coal, earthy.
Palate: Big peppery heat and ginger. Licorice powder, white peaches, burnt apple sauce, roasted chestnuts, medium peat. A touch of water adds, toffee, cocoa, rhubarb and balance to the hotter elements.
Finish: Coal fire, pepper, ginger, burnt apple sauce, peat, licorice, salt. Water adds rhubarb, cocoa and smoked fish. Long.
Last Word: Some like it hot. I do! Another fine young Hanyu. Nose works best without water, the palate and finish with.

Rating: 89/100
For an alternate review check out Whiskies R Us

Ichiro’s Malt 9 of Clubs 1991-2011 Hogshead/Bourbon Barrel #401 57.3%


Nose: Stone fruits, praline, drying newly tanned leather, caramel, oak, soy sauce, ash, brine.
Palate: Brown sugar, nutmeg, toffee, pepper, brazil nuts, horse radish, mouth coating. A touch of water adds rhubarb, strawberry compote, ginger, almonds and the whole grows more palate smacking.
Finish: Rhubarb, strawberry jam, pepper, tobacco, leather and ash.
Last Word: A sweet/dry combo.

Rating: 90/100

Ichiro’s Malt Single Cask 1990 17YO Bourbon Barrel #9414 55.5%abv

japanese-whisky-024Nose: Peaches, nectarines, apricot jam, toffee, wood stain, leather, tobacco, lemon juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, peppermint.
Palate: Nutmeg, pepper, tobacco, wood spices, maple syrup. Opens up nicely with water with sugar glazed orange slices, walnuts, bubblegum, cinnamon, sherbet, cola, hint of peat.
Finish: Some pepper, earthy peat, bubblegum, wet cement and tangy sweet spice.
Last Word: Took about 18 months for this one to open up and reveal some extra complexity.

Rating: 88/100

Ichiro’s Malt 3 of Spades 2000-2007 New Wood Finish #7000 57.9%abv


Nose: Light oak, incense, pepper, vanilla, lemon rind, pancake batter, apricot jam. All subtly delivered.
Palate: Again quite subtle. Lightly estery, oak, caramel, incense, aromatic wood spice.
Finish: Pretty much as per the palate. Quite oaky for the age. All perfectly drinkable but nothing special.
Last Word: Hanyu Light!

Rating: 82/100
*Notes taken from a purchased sample

Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu 1988 21YO ‘NOH’ Sherry Butt #9306 55.6%

hanyu-noh-1988-21yo-9306-55-6Nose: Pu-erh tea, struck match, burnt twigs, varnish, mixed peel, grapefruit.
Palate: Adds the following to the nose. Fig jam, burnt popcorn and green grapes. Water ramps up bitter elements.
Finish: Earthy, bitter and lots of burnt notes(twigs, popcorn, struck match).
Last Word: Fairly unpleasant and tough for me to finish, especially with water added. For lovers of ‘dirty’ sherry style whiskies a la many a Karuizawa.

Rating: 76/100
*Notes taken from a purchased sample.

Ichiro’s Malt 8 of Clubs 1988-2011 Hogshead/American Oak Puncheon #7100 57.5%

ichiros-malt-8-of-clubs-1988-23yo-7100-57-5Nose: Pepper, nutmeg. oregano, cloves, overripe peaches, brazil nuts, marmalade, mixed peel, medium peat. Water adds a wild flower note.
Palate: Cocoa, coconut, brazil nuts, pepper, stewed apples, salt and medium peating. Water helps define these flavors and ramps up the hot spices.
Finish: Good length on cocoa, coconut, hot spices, eucalyptus, peat and a mineral element.
Last Word: The balance between heat, sweet and peat is a winner.