Chichibu Japanese Malt Whisky the Chichibu distillery was founded in 2007 by Ichiro Akuto, the ancestors of whom were making sake here in the early 1600s'. But even more important here, Ichiro's grandfather Isouji Akuto had opened a distillery in the nearby town of Hanyu around WW2, founding it in 1941 and getting the operation licence in 1946. Around 1980, the family distillery turned to single-malt whisky making but these high-quality whiskies needed long years of élevage and this was a difficult investment to support. Ichiro Akuto who when he was younger had been working for the beverage giant (and whisky maker) Suntory had come back to his family distillery first as sales manager then as president but that's when the company had to close down, in 2000, due to financial difficulties. Then, with the fortunate help of a sake maker named Sasanokawa Shuzou, he could repossess a large part (about 400 casks, from what I read) of the priceless whisky stock of the defunct distillery and begin sell it when ready. All the while he soon also made the steps to start a new distillery, right in the town where his ancestors had made sake, here in Chichibu. The new Chichibu distillery started its production in 2007 and we're still now in the early stage of a very promising distillery, bu if you're given the chance to drink some whiskies from the previous incarnation of Chichibu, namely Hanyu, which are now labelled Ichiro's Malt, you'll have a glimpse on what should taste like long-élevage Chichibu whiskies. these Card-series whiskies with intriguing labels going from Five of Spades to King of Heart are just outstandingly, intensely beautiful.