Legendary Mayfair hotel Claridge’s has unveiled a limited-edition Japanese whisky, from one of the most revered distilleries in Japan, Chichibu. Distilled in 2012, this spirit has been hand selected for the hotel with only 300 bottles produced, all numbered by hand. In his first ever whisky collaboration, Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto conceptualized the label paying homage to head distiller Ichiro Akuto by writing his name in traditional Japanese calligraphy.
The whisky hails from the Chichibu Distillery, northwest of Tokyo, which is considered one of the most influential distilleries in Japan. Founded in 2008, it was the first new Japanese distillery since 1973, and has a long-standing family tradition behind it, dating back to 1625. With hot and humid summers and winters dropping below zero, Chichibu’s climate greatly affects the whisky; the maturing period is relatively short, while the taste is fruity and well balanced. The company uses water from the Arakawa River.
The nose of the whisky is dry and aromatic, featuring aromas of sandalwood, beeswax polished oak, hazelnut brittle (heavy on the nuts), and distant coal smoke with a touch of meadow flower and autumn leaf. Apple and pear notes follow, along with toasted rye bread and salty butter, all on top of a soft and leafy herbal base of mint and tarragon.
The palate is sweet and spicy with layers of berry fruit, as well as blackcurrant, blackberry and redcurrant. Liquorice hints and spiced shortbread balance rich toffee and mint fondant. Sultanas, raisins, and green leaves develop, backed up by soft and leafy bonfire smoke, black pepper and shortbread spice. The Finish is a lingering note of apples and pears with layers of spiced shortbread and gingerbread.
The bottle is delicately wrapped in Japanese rice paper and presented in a Japanese cedar box, designed by Takaaki Matsumoto. The Claridge’s logo appears in red on the bottle, representing one of Japan’s national colors, a nod to this historic collaboration – a first for the distiller.
Twenty-five hand blown glass decanters have also been designed by Sugimoto and come with a hand-made glass funnel, also designed by the artist. The decanter boxes are also designed by Sugimoto and will have an original hand painted piece by the artist.
Guests of Claridge’s Bar will be able to experience Chichibu whisky for £125 per 50ml measure. Claridge’s Wine Cellar will offer the decanters and a singular bottle for £10,000. A singular bottle is available at £1,500. Purchases can also be made via Claridge’s official website.