Ichiro’s Malt 1986 King of Hearts (55.4%)

on May 08 in Japanese, Pictures, Single Malt Whisky by James

If you are reading this then I thank you for your support and interest. Although Dan and I have only really made a ‘soft’ launch of this blog we have already had a fantastic response. It is almost overwhelming how helpful and friendly both people in and outside the industry have been. I hate playing the “we have some exciting things coming up but we are not going to tell you watch this space” card but there I have done it. It is a pleasure to interact with like minded people and I hope it continues.

While on the subject of cards we have managed to get our grubby mitts on some Ichiro’s Malt 1986 King of Hearts (55.4%). A legend at the Master of Malt was aware of our love for the Japanese single malts and sorted us out with some of the proper stuff. When the package arrived an epic 5 day battle between Dan and I broke out over who should get the first taste. Although Dan fought with honour he was no match for my “Whats that up there?” “huh” *grabs whisky and runs* special move.

What does Ichiro’s Malt 1986 King of Hearts smell like?

Being 55.4% then it will take your face off if you start inhaling lung fulls of this fine whisky. Wafting it back and forth there is an incredibly sweet sherry soaked cherry aroma. It certainly smells delicious.

What does Ichiro’s Malt 1986 King of Hearts taste like?

Like taking a sherry sledgehammer to the face. A creamy butter finish helps you to recover and gather your thoughts about what the hell just happened. Slightly oily on the palette. That’s it. This is a very simple uncomplicated single malt.


I like to think that every single malt creates a space for itself, some try to share space while others occupy that space alone, creating that magical ‘niche’. Some single malts are happy to occupy their niche along side others, however, in the case of the King of Hearts the niche it has began to create is in danger of gaining critical mass and going sherry-super-nova.

The simplicity of this whisky makes it complicated. Trying to describe or understand what makes this whisky special is incredibly difficult. The more complex whiskies come equipped with an auto-cue, each flavour / aroma presenting itself in timely fashion. The King of Hearts doesn’t, he just introduces himself then hits you with a haymaker, what an asshole!

I love it when you try a whisky that is so different from the norm that it resets your way of thinking, goal posts moved, new marks made on the bench. Buy and try some before this rare whisky becomes a thing of legend.

Thank you to the Master of Malt who made it possible for me to get my crunk on with the Ichiro’s Malt King of Hearts 1986.



  • dancave says:

    I’m trying this along side a Glenmorangie 12 sherry cask LASANTA. The Glenmoranie is much more recent whisky and spent less time in the sherry but it should be an interesting comparison.

    King of hearts – Strong Warm but soft/smooth sweet creamy worthers originals.

    Glenmorangie – less full with more sherry with a slightly more chemical smell. Completely different, and much lighter.

    King of hearts – hard and fast creamy sweetness > sherry boozyness > very light smoke > cookie breath. Not much in the way of fruit or spices. It is hot and sour and creamy at the same time on the finish.

    Glenmorangie – Lighter and more fruity with the same warming sherry but the sweetness holds off until later where it rewards you with a delicious taste. the creaminess of the Ichiro’s malt is M.I.A but that makes it all the more drinkable and light.

    Compared to the Ichiro’s malt the Glenmorangie is more chemical and medicinal tasting/smelling but its lightness and late arriving sweetness make it so drinkable the bottle won’t last long in anyone’s cabinet.

    I can see why people rate the Japanese malt, its fuller, more complex and has a nice creaminess to it, but for me I’ll take the Scottish whisky this time please because I can drink it neat for much longer and still enjoy its drink-ability.

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