Japan’s Nikka Whisky started its experimental Nikka Discovery sequence in 2021, with two particular releases, one from every of its two important distilleries. Nikka adopted go well with with one other pair in 2022, making one marvel if it will proceed the theme going ahead.
Effectively, right here we’re in 2023, and Nikka has introduced that this would be the remaining launch of the Discovery sequence, and slightly than dropping a number of bottles, it’s releasing only one: Nikka the Grain Whisky, a mix of seven completely different whiskies from 4 Nikka distilleries; Miyagikyo, Nishinomiya, Moji, and Satsumatsukasa. The precise mix is complicated and contains coffey and pot nonetheless distillates made variously from combined grains (corn, rye, and/or barley), 100% malted barley, and even malted and unmalted barley blends — some made utilizing methods usually used for shochu (together with a stainless-steel nonetheless). There’s a bit of of all the things in right here, with distilling dates starting from 1988 to 2019, all aged in several types of casks, too — although solely varied forms of American oak. A completed profile that at the least leans towards bourbon slightly than Scotch was the final word purpose.
“We’re excited to introduce this very particular expression for the ultimate launch of our ‘Nikka Discovery’ sequence, a celebration of the previous and way forward for grain whisky,” says Emiko Kaji, Nikka Whisky International Advertising and marketing & Gross sales Basic Supervisor. “This creation is achieved by each Nikka’s custom and innovation. Our signature Coffey stills are nice belongings inherited from our founder Masataka Taketsuru, who realized the best way to distill Coffey grain whisky in Scotland and put in the first nonetheless in 1963. Whereas accumulating know-how of Coffey distillation for 60 years, we now have additionally developed distinctive new grain whiskies incorporating shochu methods. For this particular launch, we even designed the label with a four-row sample to spotlight every of the 4 distilleries.”
Nikka despatched samples of three of the seven element whiskies, plus its Coffey Grain and Coffey Malt releases, as a part of a digital Grasp Class with Emiko Kaji, Nikka’s worldwide enterprise supervisor, and so they had been dazzling; I significantly loved the corn and rye whisky from the Satsumatsukasa distillery, which was wealthy, spicy, and extra caramelized in its sweetness than Nikka’s Coffey Grain launch.
As for Nikka the Grain, it’s certainly greater than the sum of its elements. The nostril is toasty and nutty, but in addition slightly beefy, as you would possibly discover with some extra brutish bourbons. Brown butter and incense notes result in a restrained umami high quality that I didn’t actually love however isn’t off-putting.
The palate is far completely different and way more immersive, kicking off with candy notes of plum and nougat, then transferring into extra bourbon-like parts of peppery barrel char and barbecued beef. It’s a far cry from the standard delicacy and determined Scotch-like method of the everyday Japanese whisky, although the end melds the 2 types, displaying off sesame seed, white pepper, and chewy roast beef. A recall of incense makes for an unique, intriguing, and generally unusual conclusion to what’s indisputably essentially the most sudden and curious whisky I’ve tasted this yr. Should you get an opportunity to attempt it, I’d love to listen to your perspective on it.
96 proof. 2600 bottles obtainable within the U.S.
B+ / $175 / nikka.com