Wednesday 18 August 2021

Komagatake x Chichibu Malt Duo Blended Malt Japanese Whisky [Tasted #533]

Continuing our look into the current state of Japanese whisky, and following my recent tasting of the Kanosuke First Edition, we move onto Mars Whisky next (and uh, Chichibu as well), in the form of the Komagatake x Chichibu "Malt Duo" Blended Malt Japanese Whisky.

A blended malt may not seem that special, but in the world of Japanese whisky, it kind of is. Unlike Scotland, the Japanese whisky industry doesn't really have a history of cask trading. Yes, there are blends and blended malts, but they're typically either Scottish/Japanese (or "world") blends, or blends of whiskies from within one company's portfolio (Suntory's "Hibiki" being a good example of the latter, containing Yamazaki malt, Hakushu malt and Chita grain).

What makes this "Malt Duo" so special is it's a blend of two different malts from completely separate whisky distilleries, and two cult Japanese distilleries at that - Chichibu and Mars Shinshu

The story goes that in in 2015, Mars Shinshu Distillery and Venture Whisky's Chichibu Distillery began exchanging malt spirit and maturing it in their respective locations, and 5 years later in 2020, we have the result. This particular release was matured at Mars Shinshu distillery (and therefore contains Shinshu-matured Chichibu), whilst another release was matured at Chichibu (containing Chichibu-matured Komagatake in the blend). Still with us?  

10,918 bottles of this "Komagatake x Chichibu" were released, whilst the "Chichibu x Komagatake" was a 10,200 bottle release. 

Official HK importers of Mars Whisky, AFTrade were kind enough to provide a sample of the whisky for review. Having tried quite a few Mars whiskies on the blog previously, I was very keen to see how this one fared.

Komagatake x Chichibu "Malt Duo" Blended Malt Japanese Whisky (54% ABV, Over 5yo, Japan,  available from AFTrade)
Colour: Golden amber.

Nose: A little heat initially, then pear, some grassiness, some herbal notes and then milk chocolate.

Palate: Personally I'd call this more "Komagatake" than "Chichibu" - I got notes of green apples, melon, chewy caramel, a youthful nuttiness, chocolate and maple syrup.

Finish: Medium in length, with the sweet maple / caramel notes quickly becoming spiced - almost like subtle chilli, with some slight oak tannins at the very end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100. A tasty whisky, but more importantly, a historically important, and quite unusual bottle in the Japanese whisky market, and hopefully an indicator of thigns to come. More of this please, Japan! 

Thanks to AFTrade for the sample.


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