A peated new-make, however, is produced during the last month before maintenance season starts. The previous release was bottled in 2018 for the 10th anniversary of Chichibu, and again, this limited release has been matured in ex-Bourbon barrels for between five and seven years and bottled at cask strength.
It has been worth the wait. Ichiro uses malted barley peated to a mighty ‘Ardbeg-level’ 50 ppm, yet the smoke is sweet, pure and wreathed in woodsmoke rather than the more medicinal level of the spectrum. Behind the smoke are nuanced notes of pure citrus oil aromas, custard creams, black tea and vanilla. The palate is about balance and integration and although it’s possible to isolate caramel, wood spice, smoke and saline characters, Ichiro Akuto conducts a masterful symphony rather than a series of disparate virtuosos. The finish is long and moreish, and positively mouth-watering.