To new and future whisk(e)y bloggers if you get obsessed with pageviews (which you shouldn't), then post about bourbon. If you want to drive folks away, post about Japanese whisky. If you mention bourbon, it'll be as if you typed Scarlet Johanssen Nude. Every time I've posted about bourbon, especially when I don't know what I'm taking about, those writeups find eyeballs. Thank you Google SEO logarithms. When I post about Japanese whisky, it's just you, me, spambots, and my wife (though probably not) reading the review. Also, bourbon bourbon bourbon.
The results of the six Japanese reviews hold some surprises. To recap in posting order:
Nikka Whisky From the Barrel - blended whisky - 51.4%abv -- score: 88
Nikka Taketsuru 12 year old - blended malt - 40%abv -- score: 79
Suntory Hibiki 12 year old - blended whisky - 43%abv -- score: 82
Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel - single malt - 48%abv -- score: 86
Karuizawa Spirit of Asama - single malt - 48%abv -- score: 83
Karuizawa Spirit of Asama - single malt - 55%abv -- score: 86
The highest scoring whiskies were without age statements. Those with stated ages scored lowest. But those with stated ages also had the lowest ABVs. I'm thinking that the low ABVs had more to do with the lower scores. In the Taketsuru and Hibiki whiskies one can feel that they've been watered down significantly. Very little was going on in the palates. That could suit a starter $30 blend, but these cost more than twice that.
Because of my very positive experience with Japanese whisky, I was worried about getting to these tastings, in fact I postponed them almost four months, because I thought their quality would result in my desire to buy bottles of all of them. That's $500-$600, which I don't have. And the whisky cabinet is already full. So my own optimism caused dread.
But hey, good news. I'm a schmuck for being optimistic! While none of them were terrible, I'd only recommend one without reservations. And it's the cheapest. All hail, Whisky From the Barrel. It's a blend, has no age statement, is in a smaller bottle, and is very tasty.
Most of us who grouse about the prevalence of NAS whisky are not industry-trolling Luddites. We admit when something is good. And we can be easily won over. Keeping the price down, the flair content low, the ABV high, and the quality higher is the key to our hearts. Congrats to Nikka. Now if you could do something about Taketsuru...