Nikka: Pure Malt: Red (Japanese Blended Malt Whisky: No Age Statement: 43% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold, quite rich colour.

Viscosity: Mix of slow puckering and occasional fast streaks.

Nose: Oak, almonds and just a hint of smoke. Tint peat over vanilla and raisins. Slight sulphur touch.

Body:  Quite heavy bodied in flavour. Fruitcake, sultanas and a hint of smoke. Glacier cherry and toffee. Slightly spicy with a beef broth back.

Finish; Vanilla toffee and glacier cherries. Planed wood and milk chocolate.

Conclusion: As mention in the background, another punter described this to me as being like Laguvulin.  Now I think that’s overdoing it a bit as it has none of the Islay salt and booming peat character. This thing goes more towards the sherried and fruity  style. However I would be lying if I didn’t say I could see what he was talking about. There is a thickness of texture and slightly meatiness backing it up, that while not the same, at least gives familiar calls.

It however is much closer in call to the “Nikka: From The Barrel”, with that sweet smoothness and chocolate to the finish, though by my memory the “From the Barrel” was a bit more booming.  The added meatiness to the fruit nature of this whisky however gives a very different depth of character.  It really does show the main advantage of a blended malt, that it can combine the smooth spiciness and light meatiness, with just a hint of smoke and bring it all together to create something a bit different, with none of the compromise of quality that using grain whisky can sometimes bring.

Now of course it looses some of the quirky characteristics of the single malt, this is very much the edges smoothed out easy drinking whisky of the malt range, and as of such I don’t end up loving it as much as those very characterful single malts. However for such an easy drinking whisky the extra weight is reassuring.

The subtleties is what makes it though, almonds dashed over the spiciness. It shows a lightness of touch that normally isn’t matched to such full flavoured whisky. So, it’s not super meaty and heavy, not super smooth, but more that its compound characteristics.
I am impressed.

Background: One of the new bottlings at The Tasting Rooms, so I had to give it a go.  Blended Malt is the ever annoying name given to a mix of malt whiskies from different distilleries.  Despite the similarity in name it should not be mistaken for blended whisky which uses grain whisky as well as malt whisky.  Frankly they should have stuck with calling it vatted malt in my opinion.  Before I tried it one of the other drinkers compared it to lagavulin, an element which probably affected my initial impressions of it.