Category Archives: World Single Grain

The Chita, Japanese single grain

Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow), 27th June 2017

79/100 – Whiskybase (average from 16 member votes)
3.6/5 – (average from 53 votes)

When it comes to understanding Japanese whisky distilleries and their brands I’m forever getting my Nikkas in a twist! So when I spotted this new Chita single grain I decided it was time to get my knowledge up to speed. Is ‘Chita’ a distillery or just a brand name? Well it’s a distillery founded in 1972 and owned by Suntory. As such its principal use is in Suntory blends, e.g., the Hibiki. Suntory own the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries, which provide the single malts that blend with the Chita grain to create such products as the Hibiki ‘Harmony’.

My curiosity didn’t end there and I wondered if there were any other grain distilleries in Japan. Miyagikyo distillery, owned by Nikka, have Coffey stills used for grain distillation for Nikka malts, and the Fuji Gotemba distillery also produce grain whisky. Of the 9 distilleries in Japan, Chita appears to be the only one that’s sole purpose is to produce single grain. During my search I found two other single grain distilleries, which have sadly now closed, the Nishinomiya Distillery (closed in 1999, owned by Nikka) and Kawasaki Distillery (ceased whisky production c.2006).

The new Chita single grain whisky, 43%, has been matured in a combination of sherry, bourbon and wine casks. Reviews on Whiskybase and are above average with comments of “for a grain whisky, it has substantial complexity”, “a grain whisky that in my view progresses nicely from nose to finish”, “seems like a quality pour” and “if you like the sweetness and smoothness of Hibiki, this is your whisky”.

I suspect that Jim Murray, author of the ‘Whisky Bible’, reviewed this single grain for his 2016 edition when it was only available in Japan. His description and 43% volume certainly match the bottle now available in the UK. He scores it 92.5/100, which classifies it as “brilliant”.

Tasting notes from ‘Master of Malt’:

Nose: Honeydew melon, citrus and honey’d cereal.
Palate: Vanilla sponge cake and more honey. A touch of orchard blossom.
Finish: Medium length, rather zesty.

Glenroc Whisky de Bretagne

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 8th March 2016

57/100 – Malt Madness
Listed here on Whiskybase

Here’s a curious find, a single grain whisky from Brittany, France. According to Malt Madness and the book ‘Le Whisky’ it used to be called ‘Glenroc’ until a legal battle with the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association), which forced the producers (Fisselier) to find another name in 2002/3. They chose ‘Gwenroc’ which is still available to purchase today (in France).

Although 57/100 on Malt Madness may not sound great the author does say “the best grain whisky I ever nosed, although it’s much more like a liqueur than a malt.” They say of the taste “flat without any inspiration. Bitter. Fruit. Orange skins. Cool on the palate. Again, it seems very much like Cointreau liqueur after a minute.” They summarise with “barely on the good side of average, but better than many young Scotch grain whiskies I’ve tried.”

One French review I found quite enjoyed the Glenroc saying it was a “happy surprise” with a fresh attack on the palate with hints of straw and fern. They say it goes well with a game of poker, apparently. Drinking suggestions for the Gwenroc say to add ice. Remember when they used to put ice cubes on earlobes to dull the pain before piercing? That’s what ice does to the palate as well as diluting the drink as it melts. Ice isn’t suitable for quality single malt but a good idea for this ‘interesting’ grain whisky from France.

Glenroc NAS 5cl

Bain’s Cape Mountain

Bought: Amazon, 5th March 2015

85.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
90/100 – RalfyHis review on You Tube here (October 2011)

I bought this bottle of Bain’s Cape Mountain from Amazon for £28, free postage, thinking I was getting a bargain. About a week later it came up as a ‘Daily Deal’ for about £20. It goes to show that it sometimes pays to wait. Nevertheless, at under £30 for an interesting whisky all the way from South Africa, it still feels like a good purchase. 5 reviewers on Amazon give it an average of 4.4/5 stars.

This is a single grain whisky, so not as complex as a single malt. Tucked away at the back of the Whisky Bible, the author Jim Murray says of this dram “a lively, attractively structured whisky with more attitude than you might expect. Some lovely nip and bite despite the toffee and surprising degree of soft oils.” Scoring 85.5/100 classifies this bottling as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.

Bain's Cape Mountain NAS 75cl