#280 • Nikka 17 years Taketsuru Pure Malt

43% alc./vol.
Nikka Distillery, Yoichi, Hokkaido,
and Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

I'm jumping a bit these days with a traffic jam that I tasted last October at WhiskeyLive Toronto, a venerable blend of the Japanese Nikka distillery, the Taketsuru Pure Malt 17.

Like the others in the same series, this expression was named in honor of the pilgrim Masataka Taketsuru, founder of the distillery. He founded Nikka in 1934 with the help of his Scottish wife Rita. After their death, their adopted son Takeshi continued to grow the family business. The whole now belongs to the brewing group Asahi, and Takeshi Taketsuru remained on board as a consultant until his death in December 2014 at the age of 90.

Although it is no longer customary nowadays to use this name, at least in Scotland, the label bears the mention pure maltwhich means that blend is assembled only from different single malts, like the old Scottish term vatted malt. The malts used would come from the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries.

As the Japanese painter and sculptor said so well Tarō Okamoto (1911-1996) said so well:

Old men and comets have been venerated for the same reason: their long beards and their pretensions to predict events.

Dear readers, I owe you an apology because it is easy during a whiskey show to quickly pick up in “cocktail-jet-set” mode, which unfortunately tends to cut criticism ...

Beautiful red but less dark than I would expect from a similar sherry cask.

Sherry pretty shy, red fruits, grapes, dates, wood, but just not enough.

Beautiful astringent honey, spices, oak, juicy sherry wine, back of spices, golden raisins.

Beautiful hot spices of sherry, black cherry flavored pipe tobacco leaf.

A good sherry cask blend, but scared it seems to be fully assertive.

Note: ★★★★★

#191 • Nikka Yoichi 10 years old

45% alc./vol.
Nikka Distillery, Yoichi, Hokkaido and Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

The swan song of Nikka during the Japanese evening of 25 last February at Scotch Whiskey Club of Quebec could only be the single malt the most popular of the distillery, praised by many critics, the Nikka Yoichi 10 years.

This very assertive malt comes from the soul of Nikka, its first distillery, Yoichi. Located on the northern island of Hokkaidō, Yoichi is the cradle of everything Nikka represents, as much in its traditional ways of doing as in its product which has nothing to envy to the great distilleries of the United Kingdom, and which ceases to wow the rest of the globe.

As said so well the Japanese video game designer and spiritual father of Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto :

The maturity of the man is to have found the seriousness we had at play when we were children.

Absolute orange amber color. According to the Sico palette, I would say mid-way between Beijing Flowering and Desert Sun.

Its scented barley is reminiscent of Speyside. A complex assembly is offered here to our nostrils. Good base of vanilla and moist earth. Grass and cereal barely sweet. Pin, even the freshly sharpened wooden pencil, without forgetting the flower that our unconscious would call sakura, given the origin of this expression.

Sugarcane, caramel, vanilla, grass, wood and spices are orchestrated firmly by a hint of smoke.

The astringent spices of sherry make their appearance on the stage wrapped in woodsmoke. Beautiful construction.

Almost a Yamazaki. Structure and complexity to shoot in the walls for a Japanese.

Note: ★ ★ ★ ★