Distillery: Nikka (blend of Yoichi and Miyagikyo whiskeys)
BACKGROUND: Nikka distillery was first opened in 1934 on the island of Hokkaido by Masataka, also known as the father of Japanese whiskey. The whiskey was made following the same rules as pure Irish whiskey which is: be made from a mash of malted barley, plus other cereal grains (optional); Be mashed, fermented, distilled to no more than 94.8% ABV, and matured in wooden casks, such as oak, not exceeding 700 liters for a minimum of three years in the Republic of Ireland and/or Northern Ireland; Not contain additives other than water and caramel coloring; Retain the characteristics of its raw materials (in other words, smell and taste like whiskey); and Be bottled at no less than 40% ABV. Nikka From the Barrel, Whisky Advocate’s 2018 Whisky of the Year, is a blend of single malt and single grain whiskeys, made in the same way that Blended Scotch Whiskeys are (except not made in Scotland). Over 100 whiskeys are blended together, aged in various bourbon barrels, sherry butts, and more to create this Japanese whiskey. Oddly, “From the barrel” does not mean cask strength, it actually is equivalent to 90 British Proof.
NOSE: Scents of fatty/oily nuts like walnuts really dominate the nose along with scents of vanilla, bright cherry, and candied dates. The nose is on the lighter side for 102 proof but has a smoothness to it that is very enjoyable. (21/25)
PALATE: The flavor profile is similar to a scotch with peat, honey, and vanilla flavors along with some light citrus notes. There is a subtle ethanol burn and rawness to this one that takes away from the overall sweeter and lighter flavor profile and mouth feel. (35/40)
FINISH: The finish is on the shorter side and is quite dry with notes of honey, vanilla, pine, and plywood. (20/25)
VALUE: This carries a $70 SRP which is slightly high for this whisky. (6/10)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Nikka Whisky from the Barrel is a good Japanese Whisky with a relatively sweet and woody flavor profile. We recommend this to anyone who enjoys lighter scotch or sweeter Japanese whisky. The bourbon and sherry butt finish doesn't make too much of an appearance on this whisky but maybe when we revisit it we will better be able to pull those notes out.
Similar & Slightly Better Whiskey: Hibiki Harmony
Similar & Equal Whiskey: Nikka Days
Similar & Slightly Worse Whiskey: Kamiki Japanese Cider Finish
Tell us what you think and give us some feedback!
96-100: The perfect dram, juice of the gods
90-95: Near perfect, truly incredible whiskey
85-89: Amazing whiskey, will always try to keep a backup bottle of this
80-84: Very good, some minor flaws here or there
75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink, Will try and keep a bottle on the shelf
70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get this
60-69: Decent, would offer this up to non whiskey drinkers
50-59: Not my cup of tea
Below 50: Give away