Ichiro’s Malt & Grain

Picture by Dominique Wijnands

This long-time favourite on my shelves seemed long overdue for a review! Ichiro’s Malt & Grain is a whisky that always sparks a bit of joy in my heart when I pour myself a dram. Not just because of the flavour (don’t get my wrong, it’s a damn tasty dram) but because of Ichiro Akuto his passion. A passion for whisky that has inspired me throughout my career and one that (in my honest opinion) is right on par with the likes of Billy Walker and Jim McEwan.

I know that’s high praise (and the ever-modest Ichiro would probably disagree with me if I ever we’re to give him to praise in person) but nonetheless it’s my honest opinion.

There has been a blog already where I went in depth about Ichiro and Chichibu, so I won’t be drambling on too much about it here. But all I will say is that when asked about his favourite whisky… Ichiro chose the Malt & Grain as his favourite daily sipper.

This particular Malt & Grain is their “standard” or “white label” release and consists of whiskies from the big five whisky industries, with age statements ranging between 5 and 20 years old. Ichiro hand selects the very best casks from warehouses in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Scotland and Chichibu’s own warehouses and combines them in a harmonious blend that is allowed to marry for at least 6 months in Chichibu’s own Mizunara marrying vat. A huge cask that’s only ever emptied for two thirds, the remaining one third joining the next batch per the solera system.

Tasting Notes – Ichiro’s Malt & Grain

ABV: 46,5 % (93 proof)
Age: NAS
Distillery: Chichibu
Chill-filtered: No
Natural Colour: Yes

What impresses me most on the nose of this dram is that you can individually pick out all the several whisky styles that went into this whisky. Molasses and caramel remind of American Whisky, whereas shortbread cookies and crisp apples remind me of Irish. Dried dark fruits remind me of a sherried Speyside and incense reminds me of mizunara aged Japanese whiskies. The fact that you can pick out so many polarising elements in one dram, makes this a masterpiece of blending if you ask me!

The same that’s said for the nose can be said for the palate. There’s an abundance of caramel, liquorice root and molasses. But there’s also citrus fruits, strawberry marmalade, and mango chutney. I’m finding some savoury notes and even some vague hints of rubber, hinting at an ever so slightly peated element in there. There’s heaps of vanilla, and tons of honey, making the mouthfeel almost feel waxy.

The finish is medium long, with honey, green tea and salty liquorice stealing the show tasting notes wise. It never turns harsh, sharp and most important of all it’s never becomes boring. It’s the complete opposite of monotone. If you want to follow this up with another dram, it will allow you to do so. But if you just want to sit and savour the afterglow for a while, that’s waiting for you here as well!

This dram never seizes to amaze me. It’s both an easy sipper, and a complex enough dram to surprise even the most veteran whisky drinker. It’s (relatively) affordable, it’s unique, and above all intriguing. This is one of those drams that no one is going to hate. If you put this on the table at a party, everybody will enjoy having a dram. Now I’m not saying it’s the best whisky in the world or anything like that, but for 60 bucks it overperforms heavily if you ask me.

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