Four years running strong, Japanese January was once again made possible- thanks to Perth’s travel retail and its sale of Chivas’ 18 Year Old ‘Limited edition’, one that is finished in first fill mizunara oak, pretty much the most cumbersome of all woods used to mature whisky.
This expression was the distiller’s second attempt at Japanese wood maturation, the first being the ‘Chivas Mizunara‘, a NAS blended whisky which in all honesty to me was a ‘smile turned upside down’. This time though, Colin Scott chose to experiment with their more robust 18 year old blend, making this particular edition the 3rd of a series of exclusives.
The bottle comes encased in a plush white box, with a thick dark-blue stroke of paint at the bottom mirroring the style of a traditional hake brush and black oriental caligraphy stating the obvious – “Mizunara”. Housed in traditional ‘Chivas’ style with a touch of eastern swag, the packaging is pure, simple and genuinely regal.
ABV : 48%
Eye : Tawny (Non chill filtered, probable E150a coloring)
Nose : Greeted by a lovely bouquet of vanilla, rich caramel, butter and sugary, fluffy marshmellows. Sure enough there’s barley, sweet bread pastry, toast and oakwood followed by cut pears and milk chocolate, mixed with dried fruits, dark raisins, lush dates and a sprinkle of rum. Hints of citrus, cloves and ginger peels taper off revealing green pepper and crushed cinnamon.
Taste : An abundance of richness, emanating from dried fruits, honey, caramel and goey date fudge. Bits of tropical fruits, some pear, rasberries and cream. Chocolate and spice, that extends deep into the palate.
Finish : Medium to long – Sweet, rich sherry goodness infused a lovely hit of spice
The Japanese Oak was nothing short of a celebration on the palate, an abundance of flavours and an amourous array of scents that continue to resonate with the senses. The 18 however can be extremely sweet and might not go well with the those who are sweet averse. But for the affinite, every sip is a melancholy of dried fruits and grapes with a dollop of caramel and the unusually prominant spice that hits the mark on both nose and palate.
This Chivas is an experiment gone well, with the Japanese oak giving that extra oomph of spice, cream and nicely scented aromas to the existing ex-bourbon and sherry oak maturation. The non chill filtration and the increased strengths are a welcome deviation to the otherwise mundane 40%. To put it simply, this 18 year old blend reminds me of a freshly brewed cup of floral tea paired with a generous portion of creamy, rich fudge.
Preference : Neat or with a few drops of water.