Grain Whisky

Review: Nikka Coffey Malt Japanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
Grain Whisky (i.e. not Malted Barley)
Distiller Miyagikyo (Sendai, Japan)

Similar to the Nikka Coffey Grain (which I really like), this is a malt made in Nikka's coffey still.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 6/14E481631

  • Bottling Date: August 2016

A very Japanese nose – light incense, apple juice, vanilla, spicy oak, banana, and light dried citrus. Well balanced and elegant. The mouthfeel is rich, with a rich spiciness – clove, rosewood, and sandalwood – and light fruit and floral notes to balance it out. There is lots of vanilla and oreo ice cream. The finish is sweet with light floral notes, raisins, prunes and a suggestive maltiness. It’s very  easy to drink, but I think its sibling Coffey Grain is actually better.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Based on $90.


Review: Hedonism Blended Grain Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Grain Whisky (i.e. non-barley; see below)
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

This is a blended grain whisky – matured in 100% first fill bourbon casks from grain distilleries – Cameron Bridge, Cambus, Port Dundas, or Dumbarton. Each batch varries in vatting depending on availability and flavour. A typical vatting: 66% grain from Cameron Bridge aged in a first fill American oak barrel, 32% grain whisky from Port Dundas aged in a first fill American oak barrel, and 2% grain whisky from Port Dundas aged in a rejuvenated oak barrel. Blended grain whiskies are very rare - there are only a handful around - so it is a worthwhile experience particularly if you are not familiar with blended grain whiskies.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: MMX IV-A

  • Bottling Code: 06/02/2014 L3 17:CB

  • Bottling Date: 2014

A bit dark, but definitely a grain whisky...rich corn, toasted coconut, vanilla, caramel, fresh oak (though, of course, not in the magnitude of a bourbon), with supporting elegance and age as well. Quite complex and deep, and very lightly oily as well. Definitely tastes like first fill bourbon casks…which, indeed, it is. Wonderfully thick in the mouth, following the path of the nose with perhaps a touch less depth being realized, staying true to vanilla and coconut and light corn influences. At the end, a touch of maple too. A bit dusty too!

For Canadian readers - this is similar, in a broad sense, to many aged Canadian corn whiskies produced by Highwood, but lacks some of the floral element that often is present in those whiskies.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. A nice whisky, but it comes at a price.


Review: Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Nikka Coffey Grain.jpg
ABV
45%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
Grain Whisky (i.e. not Malted Barley)
Distiller Miyagikyo (Sendai, Japan)

Amidst all the craze around Japanese whisky, with many expressions dropping age statements or going out of production, there are a few great whiskies which appear to becoming more widely available (for now….) – including this one. This is a grain whisky, which, in short, means a whisky not made from malted barley as the definition arises from Scotland where the malts reign and this is part of the “other” whisky. Japanese whisky arose out of students of whisky who journeyed to Scotland to learn and take back what they learned – and, especially at the beginning (and still now) grains and stills were imported from Scotland to Japan – as in 1963 was the continuous coffey still used to make this whisky. The whisky is made in Miyagikyo. There aren’t many coffey stills currently in use, but they are around a few places, like here, or Crown Royal.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 6/04E341428

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Vanilla, caramel, candied orange peel, light oak char, stewed apricot, and dry fresh oak. It is sweetly floral with a chamomile-type profile. Slightly sour, and dried corn husks come out with time too. Simple, but deep, and very well integrated. The use of oak seems very well in line with my experience with other Japanese whiskies, and this is very much like a well-aged (not necessarily long) grain whisky like the older Canadian corn whiskies (i.e. the Highwood ninety 20, or century reserve 21) or Scottish grain whiskies. Very pleasing.

Taste: Hot and complex at first, before some vanilla, lemongrass, and creamy oak come rolling in with some chamomile, before fading slowly to spices. Between the way that your mouth experiences different textures and flavours as you go about tasting this whisky, and the overall balance – it’s a very enjoyable whisky, particularly the middle bit with the creamy oak. Great texture, and great balance of grain and oak. That creamy middle is just so fantastic!

Finish: Cloves, tannins, honey, vanilla, chamomile, honeydew melon, fresh charred oak – good flavour but a bit dry, thin, and short.

Very nice stuff! Good whiskies have a great start, middle, and end – and it’s rare to find whiskies which have such a nice middle as this on the palate. Pleasing all around.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Towards the higher end of the category for $100.