Miyagikyo

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: Nikka Taketsuru 21 Year Old Blended Japanese Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Taketsuru 21.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
21 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Yoichi & Miyagikyo (Japan)

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 6/14C221641

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

I get a lot more sherry here than in the 12 Y.O. Again very rich. Spicy – cinnamon, incense, green cardamom – but also raisins, figs, grape, vanilla, and, again, old wood. Rich and nutty too. Very nice, mature whisky. On the palate, it’s well integrated, with a very nice balance between the sherry, wood, brown sugar, candied orange, rancio, and green cardamom. Great whisky- very subtle and elegant- though quite tame, so if you like big bold whiskies this isn’t like that. Finishes with quite a bit of rancio, roasted nuts, and marmelade. Magnificent whisky.

It has the extremely satisfying, well-aged effect that you see in the development of great rancio and wood in old armagnac - it really is quite brilliant.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very low, at $373.


Review: Nikka Taketsuru 12 Year Old Blended Japanese Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Taketsuru 12.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years
Recipe
Malt Whiskies
Distillers Yoichi & Miyagikyo (Japan)

This is a blended malt Japanese whisky, and this version has recently been replaced by a NAS version because of the hugely increased demand for Japanese whisky.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Terrific integration of the grain, though I do not mean the cereal notes (of which there are none). Lightly earthy, with lots of old wood and vanilla. Full of the richness of prunes and spicy, woody notes like incense. I quite like the profile here. With time, sherry notes come to the fore, alongside parmesan, honey, brown sugar, and mixed roasted nuts. Very clean on the palate, though a bit simpler than the nose, with the grain lightly leading the way along, with slightly sweet wood and vanilla. A bit spicy too, with some cinnamon and clove and anise. Tingles on the finish with wood, smoke, and a bit of white pepper. Slightly Dry. Terrific! If only the palate were a touch bigger…

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

Value: Average, based on $100 CAD.


Review: Nikka From the Barrel Blended Japanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Nikka FTB.jpg
ABV
51.4%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
Malt and Grain Whiskies
Distiller Miyagikyo & Yoichi (Japan)

The worldwide whisky boom has certainly affected multiple countries, Japan not withstanding. Earlier this year, Nikka decided to stop bottling the revered Yoichi single malt in order to meet demands for their blends – of which this is one. It is made by the Yoichi distillery, which lies in southern hokkaido and was founded by Masataka Taketsuru – the legendary pioneer of Japanese whisky who studied in Scotland and even had a Scottish wife.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 6/100561002

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Nose: For a 50% whisky, the nose is surprisingly quiet. Primarily, wet, mossy earth and some fino sherry notes amidst vanilla, apricot, oak, pencil shavings, caramel, saffron, white grape, roasted almond, and milk chocolate. Very rich grain in this!

Taste: Thick, with very light earthy barley, dried apricot, pears, dried cherry, prunes, and a decent, but clean, malt backing and some oak in the mix. Clove, cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg, and caramel in the mix too. Quite sweet and sour – too much so, perhaps. With water, at first, it seems to become more sour and the malt comes out more. As you add more water, it becomes quite sweet but better balanced, and still retains flavour well – it makes me wonder, perhaps, if this one was made to be had with soda. I prefer it a bit watered down.

Finish: A bit of lingering peat, light caramel, white pepper, clove, vanilla ice cream, and malt notes.

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

Value: Average, based on about $90 CAD / 750 mls.


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.