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Whisky Magazine Issue 100
December 2011


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Ichiro Akuto has been a major player in the world of artisinal Japanese whisky for more than a decade, well known for bottling the successful Hanyu Card Series. Neil Ridleycatches up for a dram on the eve of his highly anticipated ‘Chichibu The First' release.

As legends in the whisky business go, Ichiro Akuto doesn't adhere to stereotype. Meeting the modest and extremely polite Akuto-san for the first time is a refreshing change and rather like the whiskies he has been instrumental in bringing to the wider world, there are hidden layers to his genius and, unquestionably, a wealth of whisky making knowledge.

As well as maintaining the continued success of the Card Series bottlings, Ichiro Akuto has been a little busy of late, putting the final touches to the first single malt release proper from his Chichibu distillery, built about 80km to the north west of Tokyo. As we sit down in The Coburg Bar at London's Connaught Hotel to sample the newly bottled Chichibu 3 Years Old, I ask Akuto-san what it feels like to finally see and taste the fruits of such an undeniable labour of love.

“I feel extremely happy,” he laughs, perhaps with a slight sign of relief showing on his face. “I felt happy when I first discovered the unwanted casks of Hanyu we bottled as the Card Series, but this moment is certainly the best moment of my life; to see spirit run from the stills, mature and finally be bottled.” How you noticed a significant change and development, now the spirit can legitimately be called a whisky?

“I'm delighted with the development that has occurred even in such a short space of time”, he points out. “There's a lot more complexity to this bottling, but recently, when we launched the whisky in Paris, we had a lot of pe...

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