Been a few weeks without a whisky post, but that doesn’t mean The Whisky Guy hasn’t been busy tasting the good stuff and today for the first time he reviews a Japanese whisky. Not a country one traditionally associates with whisky, but if you need any proof that they are right up there with the best Scotland has to offer then look no further than the World Whiskies Awards for 2014 where a Japanese whisky, the Nikka Whisky Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Years Old, was named as the world’s best blended malt. Not too shabby that. And it just so happens that the whisky being reviewed today comes from the very same producer that won that award.
The Nikka Pure Malt Black.
Doesn’t have that vintage feel dripping in heritage, but i’m loving that simple, modern, neat and elegant look.
As always the drill is that i give you some history and bar ammo about the whisky and then tell you what it’s like. It’s the first time a Japanese whisky has been reviewed so not much to compared it to from the same region, but will see how it does against Scottish, US and SA whiskies previously reviewed.
The story behind Nikka Pure Malt Black:
The company operates a number of distilleries and other facilities in Japan, including two Japanese whisky distilleries, the Yoichi distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaidō established in 1934, and the Miyagikyo distillery established in 1969. The founder, Masataka Taketsuru, travelled to Scotland in 1918 to learn the process of distilling Scotch whisky first hand. He married Jessie Roberta (“Rita”) Cowan, the daughter of a Glasgow doctor, and returned with her to Japan in 1920. In 1923 he joined Kotobukiya (currently Suntory) and helped to establish a distillery before starting Nikka in 1934.
What’s it taste like?
Nose: right off the bat you will be surprised by the faint smokey aromas. Not nearly as heavy as some of the well known peaty whiskies, but it’s definitely noticeable. That aside you’ll quickly pick up some sweeter, fruit-like notes like peaches covered in honey. Oak is also present.
Palate: first sip will reinforced the smokey, peaty aromas and the sweetness will pull through later with toffee and more fruity flavours.
Finish: rich, smooth finish with some hint of spices and it keeps that sweet smokey consistency. Nice and balanced.
Appearance and price: as i mentioned earlier the bottle and packaging don’t exactly scream history and it makes sense given that Nikka was only established in 1934. That being said though the smaller 500ml bottle and it’s simple rounded shape definitely make it a conversation piece worth putting on display in your whisky cabinet. The packaging also is minimalist which is more elegant that minimalist. Price wise the Nikka Pure Malt Black is not your entry level cheap stuff and is listed on bottleshop.co.za at R599. Bit pricey, but worth it.
Overall score on the Life is Savage Whisky Index: given that it’s the first Japanese whisky being reviewed it’s gonna get a very respectable 8.5 out of 10. The only factor for me not giving it a 9 was my affinity for the sweeter, less smokey whiskies.
Great stuff though.
Check back next week for another review and giveaway of an award winning whisky.