Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Raspberry And Cream - The Chita Single Grain

The Chita Single Grain

So it is not often we explore a Single Grain here on DTWC but in all fairness, here in Australia, single grain whiskies are not all that common. Often relegated to the stalls of blending stock, single grains don't get a look in at the best of times. Things are changing in the world of whisky (as we all know) and for some time now Suntory has been releasing The Chita Single Grain to both the local and international markets.

The Chita Single Grain comes from Suntory’s grain distillery Chita located in Aichi Prefecture in central Honshu Island Japan. Generally not open to the public this distillery is a powerhouse of grain production for Suntory. As far as I am aware this expression is the only single grain whisky released by Suntory with the remainder of production going into blends.

The Chita Single Grain is effectively released as a spirit for making the now famous highballs of Japan. Highball = Whisky, soda, ice and maybe a sprig of mint or a citrus twist served is a tall glass. In saying that the release of the Suntory Yamazaki Distillers Reserve and the Hakushu Distillers Reserve  (see offical coverage of the Australian release here) were also said to be designed for the highball but reality is they are all perfectly good whiskies appreciated neat. It is a testament to Suntoy’s quality in production that can allow for such versatility in all these particular spirits. I picked up this bottle on a recent trip to Japan for around $45AU. Purchasing here in Australia is a far different situation with prices now soaring over $200 a bottle simply due to the popularity that Japanese whisky has at the moment.

Single Gain as a term effectively means any grain coming from a single distillery. Often a single gain will be primarily made up of corn either as 100% with an added enzyme during mashing, or a combination of corn and barley. Reality is though, single grain can be made of any quantities of grain including malted barley. Mike Miyamoto, global brand ambassador to Suntory, told me that the primary components of The Chita is corn with a small percentage of malted barley. He also said it is not a whisky currently on the cards for continued global release but that is not to say it may not happen in the future. He went on to say the popularity of Japanese whisky caught Suntory totally off guard with production for many years to come already allocated so they simply do not have stocks to spare for a continued release. If you like the Suntory Hibiki expressions then you will already be familiar with The Chita Single Grain as it is the backbone of these expressions.

The Chita Single Grain
Distillery: Chita Distillery, Suntory
Region: Aichi Prefecture, Honshu, Japan
ABV: 43%
Wood: New American Oak & Ex-Bourbon
Age: NAS

A nose of super sweet vanilla & raspberry ice-cream prevails even after the first dram. It is somewhat spirity but clearly a very pure product. Vanilla just continues to go on and on and on.

To taste you get youthful excited across the tongue before juicy custard apple textures appear. Not long after a rum like high sweetness rises in the mouth.

The finish becomes warm, tingly & sweet with a high heat building in the cheeks, top of the throat that is followed by a dry sugary coating throughout.

Overall it is a well made whisky but probably not for those that like their whiskies to be of that Scotch pedigree. You will note I have made no mention of wood influence simply because it is hard to find on its own. What do I find so interesting about this whisky is it is youthful and sweet like eating vanilla pods in a bowl of cream and raspberries. It has a place but not for all. If I was to give a dram then a 5 out of 7. It is a great whisky to try but not at the $200+ AU price mark many are now asking for in the local market. If it was more inline with Japanese pricing then it is a cracker of a dram.

The Baron