Bottled in 2010, this was crafted by Ichiro Akuto, this is a vatting of various single malts which have been aged in Japanese Mizunara oak. It’s an incredible whisky, with loads of character from the Japanese oak.
The eponymous brand name refers to Ichiro Akuto – grandson of the founder of the fabled Hanyu distillery (which shut production in 2000). Ichiro later founded the Chichibu distillery nearby, and managed to save a number of Hanyu casks. His “Ichiro’s Malt” series typically involve vattings of both old Hanyu stock and new Chichibu production.
The Mizunara Wood Reserve (MWR) is distinctive because it is a vatting of malts that have all been aged in Japanese Mizunara oak casks (Quercus mongolica). There is an interesting article on Nonjatta that describes the influence of this type of oak on Japanese whisky.
My experience of Mizunara wood aging to date has been through blended whiskies, where only a proportion of the final product was aged in these casks (such as the Hibiki Harmony). Ichiro’s Malt MWR is thus an opportunity to try and dissect out the specific contribution of Mizunara wood more directly.
Nose: Honeyed and toasty, sweet and light citrus, hints of grapefruit and a sugar in a bowl, tangy.
Palate: Rich, spice, fruity, tangy, fruity, malt. Hints of honey and toffee apples.
Finish: Abrupt, but very spicy, sweet.