[Review] Ichiro’s Malt&Grain Japanese Blended Whisky Limited Edition 2021

At the World Whisky Awards (WWA), an international competition organized by a British magazine, “Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Japanese Blended Whisky Limited Edition 2021” won the World’s Best (the world’s highest award) in the category for blended whisky with low production (less than 5,000 bottles). It won the World’s Best Award in the category for blended whiskeys with low production (less than 5,000 bottles).This is the fifth year in a row that the company has been named World’s Best.
Venture Whiskey was the only Japanese whiskey to win the World’s Best Award.

The World Whisky Awards has been held annually since 2007, and is a unique competition for whisky only.

The “Limited Edition 2021” was produced and priced at 1 bottle. Limited to 500 bottles The “Limited Edition 2021” has been produced and is priced at 198,000 yen per bottle including tax. The Limited Edition 2021 is now being shipped to restaurants.

Ichiro’s Malt is a whisky released by Venture Whisky in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture. Ichiro’s Malt is so popular and hard to find that it sells out the moment it hits the shelves, but the standard Leaf Series (Quercus Wood Reserve, Winewood Reserve, and Double Distilleries) are extremely popular and captivate whisky fans.
Venture Whiskey was founded in 2004 by Ichiro Akuto as a whiskey sales company, and three years later, in 2008, he established a distillery in Chichibu City.
Mr. Ichirō Akuto’s passion and dedication to whisky making is so strong that he imported pod stills directly from Scotland.
The pod stills are imported directly from Scotland, and the fermentation tanks, called washbacks, are made of Quercus serrata.

1. Manufacturer

Venture Whiskey Co.

Established2004
Headquarters location 49 Midorigaoka, Chichibu-shi, Saitama 368-0067 Japan
Distilleries ownedChichibu Distillery, Chichibu No.2 Distillery

2. Distilleries

Malt from the Chichibu and Hanyu distilleries and grain from the Kawasaki distillery, which used to exist, are the only ingredients in the blend.

Venture Whiskey Chichibu Distillery

Location 49 Midorigaoka, Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture, 368-0067 Japan
Start of operation 2007

Single malt whiskey production rooted in the climate of Chichibu is carried out.
Mr. Ichiro Akuto, the founder of the distillery, takes pride in producing Japanese whiskey, and is committed to handcrafting malt whiskey using small mills, mash tuns, Quercus fermenters, and pot stills made by Forsyth in Scotland.

The area around the Chichibu distillery is rich in nature, with clean air, good quality water, high temperatures and humidity in the summer, and cold temperatures that reach below freezing in the morning and evening. The difference in temperature between the two regions has a profound effect on the maturation of the whiskey, resulting in a fruity and well-balanced whiskey despite the short maturation period.

 

September 2004: The company was founded.
2007: Chichibu Distillery completed.
February 2008: A license for whisky making was issued and whisky production began at Chichibu Distillery.
October 2019: The second distillery started operation.

This distillery was established after Suntory Hakushu Distillery and Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery, which were established in 1973. The distillery was established in 1973 after Suntory Hakushu Distillery and Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery. The first distillery established in Japan in 35 years. This was the end of the whiskey slump.
The annual whisky production is only two days’ worth of the Glenlivet distillery in Scotland.

The second distillery, which has been in operation since the fall of 2019, has a production volume that is a whopping two times that of the first distillery. 5 times The second distillery, which will be operational in the fall of 2019, will produce a whopping 1.5 times more malt than the first. The pot still is the same shape as the first distillery, but it is much larger so that it can distill five times as much malt. It is made by Forsythe. Gas direct-fired distillation machine made by Forsythe.

For more information on Chichibu Distillery, please see also.

Hanyu Distillery

Location 4-1-11 Nishi, Hanyu City, Saitama Prefecture
Start of operation1946 – October 2004 (operation until 2000)

1946: Toa Shuzo was founded as the head brewery of Hidato Sake Brewery in the current city of Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture.

          The company began producing sake.
1941: Moved a base to the current city of Hanyu, Saitama Prefecture and established a company.
1946: Obtained a whisky manufacturing license.
1948: Started production of whisky “Golden Horse”
2000: Hanyu Distillery shut down operations (production of unwilling whiskey)

 

The distillery stopped distilling after 2000, and the barrels that were being matured were taken over by Ichiro Akuto of Venture Whiskey. The Hanyu distillery’s original whiskey was given the brand name “Ichiro’s Malt” by Mr. Akuto, who took over the distillery, and became one of the closed distillery’s original whiskeys that could barely be obtained even though it was limited.

Kawasaki Distillery

Location3-1 Suzuki-machi, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Start of operation 1935-2003

1934 Showa Shuzo Co., Ltd. established
1935 Kawasaki Plant started operation.
1942 Name changed to Showa Nosan Kako Co.
1947 Kawasaki Plant begins production of whiskey. Started selling “Sun Luck Whisky” .
         At that time, the company did not manufacture undiluted whisky, so it purchased and blended undiluted whisky for sale.

1949 Company name changed to Sanraku Shuzo Co.
1958 Expanded whisky production Production of undiluted malt whisky began.
1962 Merged with Ocean Corporation to form Sanraku Ocean Co.
1969 Production of undiluted grain whisky started at Kawasaki Plant.
1980 Built a grain whisky storage facility in Kawasaki factory.
1985 Changed company name to Sanraku Corporation.
1990 Changed the company name to Mercian Corporation.
2003 The production function of Kawasaki factory was terminated. The plant was closed.
2007 Became an operating company of Kirin Holdings Company and Kirin Group.

 

The Chichibu distillery of Venture Whiskey, now located in Saitama Prefecture, stores the original whiskey from the Kawasaki factory at that time. 2009 saw the release of single grain Kawasaki, 1982 Kawasaki, 1981 Kawasaki, and 1976 Kawasaki, whiskeys made from the original whiskey distilled at the Kawasaki factory during the Sanraku Ocean era.
It is unknown how much of the original whiskey is still available today.

3. Product name and photo

Ichiro’s Malt&Grain Japanese Blended Whisky Limited Edition 2021

4. Characteristics

It is a blend of malt from the Chichibu and Hanyu distilleries and grain from the Kawasaki distillery, which once existed.
The malt whiskey from the Chichibu distillery, established in 2008, and the malt whiskey from the former Hanyu distillery, the predecessor of the Chichibu distillery, and the grain whiskey from the Kawasaki distillery, which used corn as a raw material about 40 years ago, are used. Bourbon barrels and sherry barrels were used for aging.

The Chichibu distillery, which started production in 2008, ages its whiskey in traditional dunnage-style storage. From among them, the original whisky that shows its power in blending is used as the key malt, and only the unique domestic whisky matured in Chichibu is blended in a well-balanced manner.
The refreshing sourness that blends with the weighty sweetness of brown sugar, and the barrel aroma with the memories of the maturing vault, linger comfortably in the mouth.
This product has been bottled in a non-chill filtered, natural color to allow you to enjoy the character of the original. We hope you will enjoy the complex flavors created through the dialogue with the original brew.

4-1. Tasting Notes

NoseBittersweet, sweet and complex, like caramel and maple syrup.

There are also hints of herbaceousness, acidity, spicy stimulation, and dried fruit.

TasteSmooth and mild on the tongue, with dried fruits. Sweet and peaty flavors. Bitter molasses, vanilla and cereal.
AftertasteA sense of maturity pervades the palate, with an herbal, cool, oily finish. Long-lasting barrel aroma.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content48.5%
alcohol categoryJapanese blended whisky
Barrel typeBourbon barrels, sherry barrels, etc.
Volume700ml
Number of bottles soldLimited to 500 bottles
Suggested retail price198,000 yen (tax included)
Release dateApril 2021

Awards

Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Japanese Blended Whisky Limited Edition 2021 won the WWA (World Whisky Awards) in the “Blended Whisky Limited Release” category. World’s Highest Award World Whisky Awards (WWA) in the “Blended Whisky Limited Release” category.

This is the fourth consecutive year since 2018 that we have won the “World’s Highest Award in this category” , and the first time since 2017 when we won the “Single Cask Single Malt” category. Won the World’s Highest Award for the fifth consecutive year. This is the fourth year in a row it has won the award.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product name Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Japanese Blended Whisky Limited Edition 2021
Capacity700ml
Suggested retail price198,000 yen (tax included)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

There seems to be no listing on Mercari at this time. (*As of April 26, 2021)

6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

There seems to be a lot of Japanese Blended Limited Editions from the past on Yahoo Auctions.
The winning bid price was Lowest price: 191,999 yen, Highest price: 300,000 yen, Average price: 234,269 yen (*Statistics for the past 120 days from April 26, 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

I was able to see past Japanese Blended Limited Editions listed on mail order sites as well. Last year’s Japanese blended limited edition was sold at Rakuten. 250,000 yen It is being sold at (*as of April 26, 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

BAR SHINKAI, which is operated by this website, offers 1 glass, 45ml: 66,000 yen 30ml: 44,000 yen, 15ml: 22,000 yen We also offer it in small quantities such as

7. Summary

This is a very rare whisky, limited to 500 bottles, but it is available at each BAR Shinkai.

We don’t know how long we will be able to continue blending malt from the Hanyu distillery and grain from the Kawasaki distillery.
It is a very precious whisky, but why not make it a candidate for the whisky you want to drink at least once in the future?

As a side note, the wooden box the bottle comes in is made of “Mizunara” (Quercus mongolica) and is carefully finished one by one by craftsmen.
There is a story that when the limited edition was released in 2019, the production of the wooden box was not completed in time and the release of the whisky was delayed by more than a month.

Please check out the other articles about Ichiro’s Malt.

Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky

If you want to learn more about Japanese whisky, which is a global trend, we highly recommend these books.

(1).Whisky Galore Vol.29 December 2021 issue

In the December 2021 issue of Whisky Galore, published by the Whisky Culture Research Institute, we report on 11 Japanese craft distilleries, including some that are open to the public for the first time, under the title of “Japanese Whisky Craft Frontline,” the first of three consecutive issues. Why did the popularity of Japanese whiskey and the craft boom occur? We will examine with interviews. Chichibu Distillery / Chichibu No.2 Distillery / Mars Shinshu Distillery / Mars Tsunuki Distillery / Kanosuke Distillery / Hioki Distillery / Ontake Distillery / Osuzuyama Distillery / Kaikyo Distillery / Hanyu Distillery / Konosu Distillery

created by Rinker
¥1,320
(2022/06/27 01:21:38時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(2). Japanese Whisky as an Education for Business

This is a book written by Mamoru Tsuchiya, a world-famous whisky critic and representative of the Whisky Culture Research Institute, titled “Japanese Whisky as a Culture that Works for Business” .
The book covers the basics of whisky, the introduction of whisky to Japan, the birth of Japanese whisky, advertising strategies and the rise of Japanese whisky, and the current rise of craft distilleries. This is a book that summarizes Japanese whisky in a very easy to understand way.

(3). Whisky and I (Masataka Taketsuru)

Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, devoted his life to brewing whisky in Japan. This is a revised and reprinted version of the autobiography of a man who simply loved whiskey and talked about himself. The book vividly depicts the days when he went to Scotland alone to study as a young man and overcame many hardships to complete Japanese whisky, as well as his companion, Rita.

created by Rinker
¥786
(2022/06/27 04:16:59時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(4). A Letter of Challenge from a New Generation Distillery

Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whisky boom, what were the managers of craft distilleries thinking and what were their thoughts as they took on the challenge of making whiskey? This book tells the stories of 13 craft distillery owners, including Ichiro Hido of Venture Whisky, famous for his Ichirose Malt, who inspired the birth of craft distilleries in Japan.

created by Rinker
repicbook(リピックブック)株式会社
¥1,870
(2022/06/27 05:24:32時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(5). Whiskey Rising

This is the Japanese version of Whisky Risng, published in the US in 2016, with much updated content. Not only does it describe the history of Japanese whiskey in detail, but it also includes data on all the distilleries in Japan, including the craft distilleries that have been founded in recent years. The book also includes descriptions of the legendary bottles that have been released, as well as information on bars where Japanese whisky can be found.

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