I started last week with a review of a Japanese whisky (this Hanyu); I may as well end this week with a review of another. This one is not a single malt. It was one of a series of limited edition whiskies released by Nikka, all of which were 12 years old and all of which were marked by two key characteristics. I’m a bit fuzzy on whether the idea was/is that these are the whiskies that in some combination go into Nikka’s blends or that they were to be purchased as components for home blending—I do believe they were only available at the Yoichi distillery (please correct me if I’m wrong). I’ve previously reviewed the Yoichi “Peaty & Salty” from the same series, and I quite liked that one. This, however, is a grain whisky, and one distilled in a coffey or two-column continuous still that is commonly used in grain whisky distillation. My track record with grain whisky is not very good but, as always, I live in hope. Maybe this will be the best grain whisky I’ve had in a while. Let’s see.
The Taketsuru “pure malts” from Nikka are, I believe, blended/vatted malt whiskies (i.e. no grain whisky in the mix) from some combination of Nikka’s malt distilleries. I’m not sure what the profiles or proportions of the components (presumably from Yoichi and Miyagikyou) are in any of them. This 21 yo is a much lauded whisky and recently arrived in the US (albeit at a rather steep price) and so I’m quite excited to be trying it.
Nikka Taketsuru 21 “Pure Malt” (43%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Clear sherry influence–dark raisins, plum liqueur, maple syrup. Polished wood and oak spice too. With time a touch of soy sauce and a mild leatheriness. Gets more citrussy with time (dried tangerine peel). Very elegant. With a few drops of water the citrus expands, there’s more brine too, and also a faint, leathery lick of dry smoke. Continue reading
Nikka is one of two Japanese whisky producers currently in the US market (Suntory is the other). So far they’ve released the excellent Yoichi 15 and the Taketsuru 12 (a vatted malt which I do not know) and there’s word that one of their grain whiskies is on the way as well. Those who’ve had access to Japanese whisky from other markets are hoping that they will eventually add this blend to their portfolio here as well. Packaged at cask strength (or at high strength anyway) in a distinctive square bottle this whisky is sheer easy drinking pleasure, and some of the pleasure comes from the fact that it is a very good value (I paid $34 for the 500 ml bottle in the UK; I guess that would be $51 for a 750 ml bottle–so, maybe not quite as good a value once you do the arithmetic).