Thanks to /u/cpfselfbuilt for this sample.
Japanese whisky. Also known as, for those of you who haven’t been listening to the whisky media (you lucky bastards), the holy grail of all whisky on the planet and the only reason to ever drink anything ever.
Oh, by the way: Based on the Japanese whiskies that I’ve had, I’m not really on the above bus. I’m not even at the bus stop for it.
Wait, maybe I should change that to Bullet Train. No, that’s too on the nose.
Yes, I’ve had some good whiskies from Japan. I’ve also had some hard passes. I do know that the Hanyu card series is genius, and Japan took on the original ideas of Scotch making and excelled at it, especially for a country that wasn’t taken over by the British.. that I can find, apologies if I have that history off.
That said, after the hype hit the Japanese whisky market, we saw they went from lots and lots of age stated, well developed, subtle whiskies to… running out of them because of the hype and now releasing Highball whiskies that are NAS… Frankly I almost feel like the hype has ruined a lot of them. Not because Hipsters are drinking it. Because it’s priced out or ran out.
One of the whiskies that is NAS and not a reaction to running out of whisky was Nikka Coffey Malt was added to the core range in 2014. And has recently been noted as the Japanese whisky of the year.
Wow, the Whisky Bible awards are like bed bugs; once they start getting into your stuff, you gotta steam fucking everything to get them out. So somehow I ended up reviewing this three years after it received this award..
So what’s the whisky? Well instead of using a grain whisky in a Coffey still, they used malt. What’s the Coffey still? It has nothing to do with Coffee. Think I’m talking down to you? I’m not, I honestly thought it was originally.
The Coffey still is the column still, updated and patented by an Irishman Aeneas Coffey who was then told by other Irish distillers that they don’t like the whisky that comes out of it. Yadda Ireland sues Scotland for blends yadda Ireland takes it on the chin yadda, basically grain whisky made in a column still has less big flavours but is cheaper to make.
However there are ways to make the whisky different, and honestly there have been some Coffey still whiskies that have bucked this trend. And for all my complaints about the over-hyping of Japanese whisky, I have enjoyed some Nikka releases, including the companion to this one, the Nikka Coffey Grain.
So let’s see how the malt differs over the grain, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 2.5Y 8/10
Nose: Butterscotch, dead leaves, lemon juice, honey mandarin, wood, nail polish
Interesting caramel on the nose. Lots of sweet acidity, some vegetal, and then some rough notes.
This is one of those cases where I really enjoyed it at first, and then as time goes on, it gets rough. It shows the age. It’s kicking you in the taint, is what I’m saying.
Taste: Candy, lemon, anise, mint, caramel
Less rough notes here. Nice candied lemon with a slight amount of spice/mint.
So it’s gotten rid of the rough parts of the nose, added some spice, and lost some spice. Like taking a classic car, putting in a current engine and maybe replacing the leather seats. Sure, it’s better now on gas and won’t annoy your animal friends, but I think we lost something.
Finish: Brown sugar, bean sprouts, anise, coffee, tobacco
Nice finish. Lots of vegetal notes, well developed earth and spice notes. Granted I don’t like tobacco so here comes my bias to screw everything up and destroy whatever objectivity I have.
Or I can stop overreacting. It’s a nice finish, and definitely my favourite part of the dram.
Conclusion: A dram that starts off with a nice amount of fruit/acidity, though with some rough aspects on the nose, a simple yet nice taste, and then an impressive, if tobacco laden finish.
Not bad. I preferred the grain, which I never thought I’d say. Grain was unique and odd. Malt? Tasted like a normal malt that needed more time. Good finish, interesting, but not so much my thing.
World Whisky review #284, Japan review #35, Whisky Network review #1248