I don’t remember how, nor why, I felt obligated to wrap Chita whisky around a dad joke.
Perhaps it had something to do with Mike Miyamoto (or DJ Mike, as I call him now. No prizes what DJ means) and his sudden penchant for dropping dad jokes on a whim.
And yet, it’s not entirely a stretch to see that grain whiskies and dad jokes are analogous in some odd way: they are not regarded as high brow spirits, they still require craft to construct, and no one will openly admit that they’re actually good.
Grain whiskies are used primarily as ‘filler’ for blended scotch whiskies – essentially for their sweetness and ‘mild’ character. Because they aren’t as highly regarded as their pot still counterparts and are mostly distilled for volume, they haven’t been given the same attention by a world that has been searching high and low for more distinguished malts to unearth.
Dad jokes are used primarily as filler jokes – essentially to keep up the good spirits of the party because it’s impossible to keep dropping the mic all night. Because they aren’t as highly prized as regular jokes and are mostly crafted for cheap laughs, they haven’t been given the same attention by a world that’s searching high and low for the next big joke to share on their social accounts.
It may seem hardly flattering to write an article comparing Chita to a dad joke, but you have to acknowledge that Chita – being grain whisky – faces a challenge in perception, regardless of how good it is.
Just like a dad joke.
When you think about it, most dad jokes are effectively (almost) one-liners or puns that you wished that you thought of first… before your dad did. If you said stuff like these, you’re brilliant:
If you’re academic, then you get a baccalaureate. Otherwise, they teach you practical skills, like how to back a lorry out. (Gary Delaney)
I think it’s wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly. (Steven Wright)
But if you said stuff like these:
What do call a deer with no eyes? No idea
Why can’t you have a nose 12 inches long? Because then it would be a foot
Then you’re just a terrible person.
But really, what’s the difference? True, it’s less esoteric, but it’s still clever. There’s no disguising the fact you’re going for a cheap laugh, but it doesn’t make the task any easier. Similarly, there are as many good dad jokes as much as there is good grain whisky, but you sort of have to look for it. And from what we’ve seen, Chita is one; and one that will not be difficult to find. Generally speaking, ‘good’ grain whisky tends to have to be aged for over twenty years at least, and often pop up as an offering from an independent label, which doesn’t happen as often, and there’s a slight premium to be paid. Granted, it’s relatively cheaper compared to its single malt counterparts, but it’s still pricey all the same.
So it’s understandable for people to be wary about a new category in a time where prices are escalating and new lines of products are being rolled out all the time. But the production of Chita is more humble in origin – no sophisticated backstory here, just a good ol’ fashioned way of doing the basics well. Mike was very forthcoming about what Chita was all about – a simple sipper to go with food, and not something you analyse. It’s just something light and was designed to be enjoyed.
The Chita is a blend of three types of corn grain spirit, produced and marked in terms of their ‘heaviness’ and resulting flavour profile. They control it by the number of columns used in the process. The heaviest style passes through two columns, the medium passes through three, while the lightest – called ‘clean’ – passes through four.
The whiskies are aged in a combination of American Oak, Spanish Oak as well as wine casks to produce a diverse flavour palette that you wouldn’t normally associate with grain whisky. By blending the three styles of grain matured in different types of casks, Suntory is able to create a single grain whisky that is unusually layered and oh, that most awful of awful cliches, balanced. The astringency that you get from young grain is still present, but never overbearing. It is what it is, after all (second most awful cliche, on the house). Like a good dad joke, it’s simple in nature, but it’s thoughtfully put together.
The Chita works well enough as a sipping whisky, and its delicate nature will be a good change of pace if you’re tired of heavy, smoky malts. The Chita is also great for a variety of uses: it’s good when served on the rocks; it plays nice with cocktails. Most importantly, use it in a highball – it’s addictively refreshing, and is guaranteed to wash out the bad taste in your mouth the next time you hear a bad dad joke.
Colour Bright gold
Nose Crème brûlée, cardamom, acacia honey, blossoming rose
Palate Mild and smooth, hint of mint, deep honey
Finish Clean and clear, spiced oak with subtle bittersweet notes
43% ABV, 700ml