Review: Ichiro’s Malt & Grain World Blended Whisky 505, “Silver Label”

In an effort to support bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis, Venture Whisky has introduced a new iteration of the Ichiro’s Malt & Grain World Blended, dubbed 505. This one amps up both the malt component and abv, bringing us a markedly different blend than that of the standard White Label.

Officially this bottle is only sold to bars and restaurants to support them during COVID-19. However, given the Japan National Tax Agency’s issuance of temporary liquor retail licenses, quite a few bottles have already found their way into the hands of consumers. My bottle is exactly that; thanks to Ikebukuro’s Aloha Whisky!

In terms of official pricing, this bottle sits far above Ichiro’s Malt & Grain World Blended Whisky (White Label), which retails for 3850 yen after tax. Then Ichiro’s Malt & Grain World Blended Whisky Limited Edition (Purple Label) weighs in at 9900 yen. At 16500 yen, 505 here is by far most expensive of the lot.

Yes, that price for a NAS blended whisky! No, it’s not wholly Japanese! But at least you can drink it knowing that you are supporting Japan’s bar scene during these tough times.

Beyond saying it has more malt whisky and higher abv, the company hasn’t released details about how the blend has changed. That said, it’s not tough to put two and two together here. With Chichibu now sitting on 10-year+ stock, an increased emphasis on Venture Whisky’s own Japanese whisky makes sense, both business and blend-wise.

Just another note about availability. Supposedly 505 here is a new member of Venture Whisky’s permanent lineup. And it will continue to only officially be sold to bars and restaurants. But with the aforementioned temporary liquor retail licenses expiring on December 31, 2020. if you’re after a bottle for yourself, this year may be the easiest year to get one.

Let’s dig in!

Review: Ichiro’s Malt & Grain World Blended Whisky 505

Nose: Thick malt, roasted banana, a bit of sawdust, and sweetness of honey.

Palate: Unabashedly Chichibu, with that tell-tale basket of fruits (especially orange and apple) and malty Bourbon cask-aged sweetness. There’s a hint of salt and bitterness in the foreground with vanilla in the background. The abv here makes the edges quite sharp and keeps the heat on.

Finish: We close out with a quite dry but hearty handful of oak and nuts. Slight ambiance of sherry as well.

Score: B

Price paid: 16500 yen, 700ml, 50.5% abv

Ichiro-san demonstrates his blending and marrying prowess yet again. As though we really needed another reminder! Chichibu Distillery fans will find themselves right at home with this good–not fantastic–bottle.

There’s enough complexity here to keep anyone busy for quite a long time. We go through phases of sweet, malty, fruity, salty, spicy, and oaky, but it does so without leaving you exhausted at the end.

And then there’s the price. If you’re a bartender and can charge say 1500 yen a dram for this, paying the 16500 yen is probably justifiable. But for those of us not looking to turn a profit, there are plenty of far cheaper blends out there that hold up just as well.

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