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The Chita, Suntory whisky (43% ABV)

Star rating: 4/5

Read our round-up of the best Japanese whisky

The Chita is a single grain whisky (using unmalted grains, such as maize, as opposed to the malted barley required of a single malt) that flies the flag for the Suntory’s Chita distillery, the largest in Japan.

Grain whiskies make up the overwhelming majority of whisky produced and, used carefully, allow a blended whisky to shine. On their own, though, grain whiskies don't tend to draw plaudits, which is perhaps why it's only with the recent surge in interest that Suntory has chosen to showcase the output from its distillery.

As grain whisky is a lighter and more delicate spirit, Suntory uses a wide variety of casks to age and finish the whisky before blending, giving it a new set of variables to control.

The Chita is a very pale straw colour, as you would expect from a pure grain whisky. The nose is very light and sweet, with baked cereal and pear-like notes, and a tinge of liquorice edging into a slightly charred note.

Light-bodied with a touch of oiliness on the mouthfeel, this is a quick, fruity spirit, with a corn note and unripe bananas coming through in a thin, intense sweetness. Then, there’s liquorice root and a nutty bitterness in the middle, before the sweetness reasserts itself.

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The finish sees that bitter note fade out with the sweetness remaining and a little coconut and cashew rounding it out. A splash of water will emphasise the sweetness, helping the liquorice come through more while not diminishing the oily note.

The perfect pour

This is most suited as a mixer, rather than a sipper. A highball, as described for the Nikka Days whisky that also made our best Japanese whisky round-up, is a great starting point for The Chita. The light flavour brings greater flexibility for pairing with food – it’s even delicate enough to accompany sushi.

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