Tag Archive: Nikka

Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky

Nikka: Coffey Malt Whisky (Japanese Malt Whisky: No Age Statement: 45% ABV)

Visual: Heavy gold.

Viscosity: General slow thin streaks with a few quick ones breaking out.

Nose: Banoffee. Coffee granules. Heather. Light but sharp lemon notes. Water really opens up with coffee cake and walnuts plus some Belgian chocolate.

Body: Smooth and lightly oily. Coffee cake. Dried apricot. Lemon notes. Water makes more coffee cake, vanilla. Cream and some lemon cream comes out along with banoffee.

Finish: Coffee cake. Soft lime juice. Belgian chocolate. Waters gives more fresh lemon sponge like notes and marmalade.

Conclusion: ok, before we go into this in any depth, I have one thing to say … I am pretty much sure that I am not being psychosomatic here. Yes this thing is called Coffe(e)y malt whisky, so yes I am thinking about coffee, but I am sure that is not the reason I caught coffee notes in this. I had tried the Coffey Grain Whisky just before and that was fresh faced, fruity, light and utterly lacking in coffee. So, when I try this, and I swear to Hagen that it tastes seriously like coffee cake, I am fairly sure I am not fibbing.

There are still hints of the fruitiness that I saw in the grain whisky – I presume attributable to the fact they were both made in the same style coffey still. Despite that the core is very close to what I think of as a highland malt texture, but smoothed to within an inch of its life. Still slightly oily, but definitely no burn, just slick as can be – definitely leans heavily in the dessert flavours as an inspiration – Coffee cake, Belgian chocolate and vanilla notes, The is especially true with even just a little water, it isn’t that this needs smoothing – I don’t think it could be smoother -but it opens up lighter, creamier and rich flavours.

Water also helps some of the heavier and thicker fruit notes to come out – you now get bright and zinging marmalade amongst the main body. I’m actually writing than I less than I should be at this point as I am too distracted just enjoying it – Banoffee notes come out late on in the body to match their earlier show in the aroma. This is wonderfully smooth, rich and complex with lovely contrast of fruit notes to coffee sponge cake.

A wonderful experience from a wonderful whisky experiment. Now the big question. This isn’t really grain, it aint single malt due to the still type. It is excellent, but what the hell is it?

Background: Ok, this is a pure malt whisky made in Coffey column stills. AKA grain whisky stills. So, technically not a single malt whisky, but neither exactly grain. Anyway, I tried this at Bristol Whisky Show 2015 and liked it so much I grabbed a bottle to take back. So, completely unbiased notes today. Drunk whilst continuing the 8 bit music kick with some Andrey Avkhimovich.


Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt

Nikka: Taketsuru: Pure Malt (Japan Blended Malt: No Age Statement: 43% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Thin fast streaks.

Nose: Gingerbread. Alcohol burn. Sultanas and perfume. Rose wine. Dried blueberries. Shortbread. Water brings out almond notes.

Body: Smooth. Honey. Warming. Caramel. Lime cordial. Drier base. Water adds a treacle touch and sweet orange.

Finish: Subtle liquorice. Honey. Slight alcohol. Malt drinks. Lime cordial. Rice crackers. Waters adds treacle notes.

Conclusion: Ok, first note: I am not going to go into the whole “no age statement controversy” thing here. I can’t be arsed really.

Note 2: How can something with an initially quite alcohol touched aroma be so smooth on the main body? For that matter how does something with such a smooth texture manage to feel so heavy after it has gone?

Note 3: I am mildly addicted to making numbered lists of notes.

Anyway, this is surprisingly heavy for a vatted malt – and with more rough edges than I would expect for the style (Maybe it is due to the lack of age st…ok,ok, just kidding). Now, this is an interesting thing for me, as I appreciate the smooth character of vatted malt, but one reason I oft go with single malt is the intriguing rough edges you can get. At the front it hits all smooth caramel and delivered as I would expect from a vatted malt – the back is where it hits heavier with treacle than that general, well, whisky feel. That kind of middle of the road Highland malt sweetness, with a touch more alcohol feel than is good for it.

So how well does it work? Ok, but not much more – I like rough edges, but despite being interesting, these rough edges don’t bring the charm – they are more the rough edges of a standard whisky. The front of this is nice, but nowhere near, say artists blend.

I blame the lack of age st…ok that joke got old quick.

It is ok, but you can get far better for your money.

Background: So, this is a no age statement whisky. Apparently there is a bit of controversy about non age statement whisky. I say apparently as I managed to mostly miss the blazing firestorm of discussion that has been the internet for years now. Meh. I have opinions on the whole thing, but frankly it has been beaten to death by now. This was drunk while listening to some 8 Bit Zoo by Snooglebum! Which may ruin any metal or punk cred I may have had. This had been found at Independent Spirit.


Nikka: Miyagikyo: 10 Year (Japanese Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 45% ABV)

Viusal: Gold.

Viscosity: Quite fat thick streaks.

Nose; Clean. Grain fields and vanilla. Husked barley. Oak. doesn’t change much with water.

Body: Vanilla custard. Sherbet lime. Some dried meat underneath. Very smooth. Smoke. Honeycomb. Stewed apricot. Oak. Even smoother with water, adds more of the custard honey, lime and oak.

Finish: Oak. Dried meat. Vanilla. Honey. Not much change with water, brings out some apricot.

Conclusion: Not a comparison I was expecting to make, but remember that grain whisky I had short while back? This reminds me somewhat of that. For once a comparison to a grain whisky is not intended as an insult. This is a very sweet and smooth whisky, and it shows the very clean nature that may be attributable to the top of the line up to date distilling processes used to produce it (As opposed to yoichi which uses much more traditional methods). As a result it does feel slightly smooth and edgeless.

Well, ok maybe not completely edgeless, just not harsh. There is a touch of smoke, and dried meat below a very smooth custard and vanilla whisky. It is very technically competent, and very balanced. You have just enough sweet stewed fruit notes before the light meat and smoke come in to balance it.

Is it odd that it seems too well balanced? I have never hidden my love of rough edges and eclectic whisky, and though impressive this polished to within an inch of its life whisky doesn’t really match my needs. It is like an overproduced album, but whisky.

Now this is very obviously a personal criticism, but for me I preferred the single grain. This has the smooth flavour down pat, but the grain had an edge in feel, and that made it better to me.

Technically I cannot fault it, but on the personal stakes something doesn’t grab me.

Background: Recently GLO did great article on the “Art Of Hibiki” event. Check it out. Anyway, with this still floating in my mind I headed over to Brewdog Bristol only to find they had on a nice wee selection of Japanese whiskys to celebrate world whisky day. Nice. So, after talking with the staff I decide on this whisky, from the newer distillery which uses the new, more technological led methods of distilling.

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.

Nikka: From The Barrel (Japanese Blended Whisky:  No Age: 51.4% abv)

Visual: A darkened apricot amber.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Definite alcohol. Sugared almonds. Rich fruitcake and treacle. Brandy cream and vanilla. Water makes very honeys and adds slight planed wood.

Body: Lots of red or Muscat grapes. Honey and golden syrup. Apricot. Water makes very sweet, honeycomb and some white grapes.

Finish: Spiced rum. Red grapes. Dried apricot. Still alcohol feel. Milk chocolate. Water adds distinct plums.

Conclusion:  Now that’s got a tingle. Spicy and sweet.  Initially I would have guessed this was mainly sherry cask, but investigation suggests primarily bourbon aged.  I was pretty damn shocked when I found that out.  Lots of plum influence and honeyed sweetness which take time to develop as the water mellows it out.

It aint a bad whisky even without the water, if a tad burning, but after a bit of water experimentation it became fantastic. Dark fruit and sweetness, a variety of sweet flavours that again would seem to say sherry influence but with now I know it does have the definite bourbon sweetness.

It is a rich mix of plum wine and mead in a whisky, with a fruit cake body. So smooth and sweet. It is comparable to Yamazaki 18, but much more rich and creamy.  Blended whisky has done itself a massive favour with this one.

Very good. If you like fruity whisky and pass this by just because it is a blend then you are missing a treat.

Background: Drunk during a visit to Bournemouth. The local pubs and restaurants seemed to have a higher than average amount of Japanese whisky so I thought I would give some a try.  The staff seemed pretty enthusiastic about the whole tasting note thing and were happy to talk shop about the whiskies which gave a nice feel.   Coming as a treat after a fine meal also helped.

Nikka: All Malt (Japanese Blended Malt Whisky: No Age Statement: 40% ABV)

Visual: Light gold.

Viscosity: A small batch of fast streaks.

Nose: A touch of cigar smoke, oak, vanilla, peat and marzipan.

Body: Light sweet front, roast beef and peat smoke. Touch of spiced raisin and butterscotch.

Finish: Peat and slight harsh salt. Slight nuttiness. Butterscotch again and slight wood.

Conclusion: A very interesting malt whisky. Sweet and subtle main body and powerful growling peat before. Reminds me of Ardmore in that it combines sweetness, rather than island harshness, with the peat.

It is for the most part it’s a delicious dram, and a different play with the style – you don’t get many doing the unsalted peat combo.

I didn’t get to try it with water, but I think that it would most likely help take off the slight extra alcohol touch at the back end, which would really make it shine.

Worth more investigation.

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