The Chita distillery is the seat of Suntory’s grain power. A monstrous, factory-like complex (the natural habitat of column stills) deep in the heart of Aichi Prefecture that produces the grain whisky for Suntory’s much loved blends.
Interestingly, they claim to make exactly three styles of foundational grain mix: “Heavy”, “Medium” and “Clean”, each being cycled through progressively more column stills to produce increasingly strong but less impactful whisky. This allows the blenders to use a combination of styles in making up the backbone of the likes of Hibiki and Toki.
The Chita distillery does release its own, special bottling of single grain whisky however… Helpfully, it’s called The Chita. A non-age-stated blend of all three of Chita’s grain styles, subtly matured (in bourbon, sherry and wine casks) and bottled at a crisp 43%. Dive in!
Watered-down honey. Very light.
Oh wow. Right up we have chalk. White chocolate. Caramel. Milk. Some Clynewax (always a winner!) Doughnuts. Icing. And the barest hint of lemon for good measure. I’m thinking “carrot cake”, or pastries.
The alcohol is light, but not weak. Which is to say, there’s definitely booze in the glass, but the flavours aren’t shouting at you. And no cask saturation either – if you close your eyes you can almost taste the new-make. Supremely huffable.
Truly wonderful – chewy, dense and inviting. I must admit it took a while in the glass to open up (hot despite 43%) but the wait is well worth it. No bourbon shouting out – the vanilla is… soft (ice cream), and there isn’t the barest sign of cloying sweetness. I’d describe the sugar as something like a dollop of honey rather than ladles of golden syrup. No immediate hint of the more exotic casks either, but you can bet it’s all contributing to the mouth party going on right now.
Super short. Which runs the risk of making you drink it faster. But oily and warming, with a slight almond/marzipan taste on the back of the palate.
When you make a hobby out of drinking and comparing spirits it can be tough to be fair to lighter style drams. It’s easy to let the heavier, spicier and cask-ier malts dominate the tastebuds and have ownership over what “good whisky” is. Occasionally I find myself putting the peat monsters and the cask strengthers aside and going back to basics with a few less crunchy drams to keep me humble.
Suntory Chita, despite its wispy fragility, delicate notes and shy-beginning leaves no doubt as to its pedigree. This stuff is simply incredible – masterfully produced, potent and delicious, real whisky in every way. Like Clynelish to Compass Box, Suntory Chita gives you the opportunity to experience a core component of great Japanese blends. And it’s clear they’re starting from a world class foundation.
If it weren’t for Bain’s 15 I might be tempted to call it the best single grain I’ve ever had. Let’s stick with “the best non-try-hard single grain I’ve ever had” and leave it at that!
Get some before Japan runs dry.