Ichiro’s Malt, The Joker–Hanyu casks distilled between 1985 & 2000, bottled 2014

60ml submarine bolt and shank

Tasting notes:
The nose of Ichiro’s Malt, The Joker opens gloriously with a hand-carved slippery elm candy box holding half-melted caramels. The box was executed by a kannushi using a knife made of black walnuts and chocolate chip cookies—it’s no wonder he spent decades on the project, eating only raspberries and cranberries mashed together in a mortar and pestle made from narwhal tusks brought to Japan by an Inuit who took a wrong turn at the Bering Straits and subsequently lost control of his umiak. All this to say: the nose is exotic and should possibly be worshipped as befits a Kami. There’s also an impression of a storage closet in the shrine, holding recently used kiseru and a private stash of kizami. My allergies are cured.

     As the malt gets close to my mouth, it’s like opening a teak drawer in a house I just bought, and discovering that it held spices and teas. When it hits my tongue, I get Hojicha and Genmaicha in equal measures, and also the steam of the boiling water they’ve been steeped in. My mouth runs hot with the blood of a samurai whose master was snarkily and unfairly impugned by a delegation of daimyō from insignificant and unprosperous provinces. There’s attenuated mango juice stored in barrels in a ship sunk in the Sargasso Sea, then raised, then sent to Japan, then deliberately sunk again and opened in the Ariake Sea. Maybe mega-electrified eels got in. Maybe tidbits of old Maltese armor got into the barrels. Whatever it was, there’s an undercurrent powerful enough to drown a kraken or a Basan, the legendary fire-breathing chicken of Iyo Province. [John: Bill! You can’t drown a kraken! They live underwater!] 
     The finish is a linear continuation of the mouth and it ebbs as slowly as the sun sinks below the horizon at the Shōwa Station at East Ongul Island in Antarctica during the winter, er, summer solstice in December. We got Bloodgood Maple wooden butter churns holding the finest of creams from angelic cows milked by the purest of heart. Juniper woods ignited by lightning bolts thrown by a laughing Raijin. It’s a controlled burn, and we’re watching from a safe distance. Cinnamon candies cut into topaz cabochons by jewelers and malted sashimi with wasabi.  



–On the scale of characters played by Heath Ledger–
Ichiro’s Malt, The Joker is…{Hold on! The obvious choice is his Oscar-winning turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight. As Christopher Nolan conceives him, the Joker is beyond good and evil; he’s a primal agent of chaos who wants nothing more than to strip away the artifices we construct to convince ourselves that we are civilized. That would speak to the mouth and finish. But longtime readers of our site know that commonly I’ll set up an obvious choice and then eschew it. Were I to do that, I’d go with his Oscar-nominated role as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain; after all, Ennis was quite a complex character, manly, loving, conflicted. But this deserves neither the obvious nor the secondarily obvious.}…on the scale of characters played by Heath Ledger, Ichiro’s Malt, The Joker is…oh, hell, I was going to go with either Ned Kelly or maybe William Thatcher from A Knight’s Tale, I just can’t do it. On the scale of characters played by Heath Ledger, Ichiro’s Malt, the Joker, is a combination of The Joker and Ennis Del Mar–It’s complicated and amazing.


–Our thanks to Marcin Miller and the Number One Drinks Company for the sample! 

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