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Search Results: ichiro

Ichiro’s Malts “Joker”; The Conclusion to the Iconic Card Series

Ichiro’s Malt Card Joker Technicolor
700ml, 57.7% ABV, Bottled in 2014
Bottle # 2,255 of 3,690 Produced
Vatting of: 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991 and 2000 Vintages
Casks: Chibidaru, Bourbon, Madeira, Hogshead, Sherry Butt, Cognac and Puncheon

Since this company’s onset we have made no secret of our infatuation with Ichiro Akuto’s, and his grandfather’s, whiskies. Many people are familiar with Ichiro’s “Card Series”, a select 54 different bottlings of single cask whiskies distilled at Hanyu, that had been released over the past decade. This series came to a conclusion in 2014 with the release of the joker, both a technicolor and monochrome bottling though I have only seen the latter at Gen Yamamoto’s bar in the Azabu-Juban district of Tokyo back in 2014.

The technicolor joker is a vatted malt, or what scotch whisky producers refer to as a blended malt, which stands in stark contrast the rest of the series which were all single barrel releases. With this final bottling Ichiro utilized, and showcased, the vast diversity of his grandfather’s barrels and aging regiments.

There were 3,690 bottles released upon its completion, none of which came to the U.S., and were mainly destined for domestic Japanese consumers, Hong Kong, Taiwan and select countries in Western Europe. In comparison, the monochrome joker was a mere 241 bottles and remained a single cask of Hanyu from 1985 finished in Japanese (Mizunara) oak.

Followers of Sole Agent’s mailing list and website know that we very rarely, if ever, outsource our opinions and tasting notes when it comes to the products that we represent but there is always an exception that proves the rule. Stefan Van Eycken wrote probably the most provocative and in depth examination of this whiskey back in April of 2014, not long after its initial release, which can be view here on Chris Bunting’s fantastic site Nonjatta.

This is one of the most sought after Japanese whiskey bottlings on the planet, in conjunction with the rest of the card series and older vintages of the lost distillery Karuizawa, it is very doubtful we will ever have one in our possession again.

Ichiro’s Malt “Double Single Malts” 2007-2008 Scotland and Japan

Ichiro’s Malt “Double Single Malts”
2007-2008, Japan and Scotland
700ml, 62% ABV, Bottle #117 of 500

In yet another “one-off” barrel expression Ichiro Akuta of Chichibu has proven, yet again, why his whiskeys are so special and sought after. This expression blends whiskeys from two different countries; 2008 Chichibu from Japan and a 2007 highland single malt that remains protected by an NDA. Blended in barrel, aged in Saitama, and bottled in 2015 with an average age of 7.5 years.ichirodoublefront

I had the pleasure of drinking this whiskey earlier this year at the famed Bar Zoetrope in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. It was a true highlight for me even over the course of a week long trip that involved plenty of famed lost Japanese distilleries: Hanyu, Kawasaki, Kuruizawa, etc.

A modern pioneer and spearheading the re-birth of Japanese whiskey Ichiro breaks the Japanese blending model while adhering to traditional malting tactics and slow aging in large barrels from his own cooperage. In addition, he kept the barrel strength integrity of this blend unlike most expressions in the Ichiro Malt range.

A spirit of wonderful balance, yet profound flavor intensity that is certainly not adverse to a touch of water. Neither malt out shined the other, the ripe orchard fruit of quince, pear, and green apple speaks to a wonderful Speyside whisky supported by the honeycomb, camphor and mild eucalyptus of Chichibu. Japanese oak shows well on this foundation with the pleasant spice of incense, graham cracker and galangal. A very special dram!

Ichiro’s “Milwaukee Club” American Whiskey, 25th Anniversary



9 Years Old
53.5% ABV
Single Barrel
237 Bottles Produced

The only American whiskey that famed Japanese distiller Ichiro Akuto has ever done. Bartender and owner Shinichi Shirai and Ichiro created the spirit exclusively for the Milwaukee Club bar and tasting group in Saitama in honor of it’s 25 Anniversary.

000000004821Under strict bourbon regulations distillation took place in January of 2006 in Lawrenceburg, KY (though the actual distillery name remains protected by a NDA) it was locally aged for six years. The whiskey was then transferred to new oak barrels subjected to a higher char, under the direction of Akuto-san, to strengthen the profile as it was moved to Ichiro’s distillery in Chichibu to be aged for an additional three years.

Make no doubt about it, this is a full fledged bourbon! Ichiro’s understanding of Chichibu’s climate motivated the cask change and his respect for Kentucky’s climates prompted him to label it as American whiskey. During the final three years in Chichibu the whiskey experienced severe evaporative loss leading to its bottle strength of 53.5%.

Cinnamon roll, orange tart, bergamot, mint chocolate and dried apricot all shine on the nose and palate. A truly one of a kind American whiskey taking advantage of two specific micro-climates and over seen by one of the greatest distillers in the world.