...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Japanese Whisky? Nikka Whisky from the Barrel

As a father of a new baby, I have two choices for doing multiple reviews each week. Either I do a number of tastings in one sitting. Or I forfeit sleep at night. Regarding the former, to quote one of Mathilda's favorite expressions, "That's a bad idea." So I've been doing the latter.

When I started the series this week, I underestimated what I was getting myself into. On Monday, I asked "What is Japanese Whisky? And does it matter?". On Tuesday, I reviewed Nikka Pure Malt Black. On Wednesday, I reviewed Nikka Pure Malt White. Today, if the post makes any sense, I'm reviewing Nikka Whisky from the Barrel.

The previous two Nikkas were blended malts. Today's Nikka is a blended whisky. The Pure Malts were bottled at 43%, while this blend weighs in at 51.4%. None of these three Nikkas include the term "Japanese Whisky" on their labels. The Pure Malts were both rumored to have some sort of Scotch malt content, while Whisky from the Barrel has never (to my knowledge) been accused of such. But why should we assume it doesn't have Scotch whisky in it? Because what constitutes "Japanese whisky" is uncertain at this point in time and because the label is missing that term, anything could be possible.

Nikka Whisky from the Barrel is my favorite blended whisky. I've reviewed it before. I've gone through more bottles of it than any other whisky over the past three years.

It's my desert island whisky. It may not be the best whisky on the planet, but it's always very pleasurable, always great in a pinch and somehow works even better in a tumbler than a glencairn glass. Also, on two occasions I bought it in Japan for less than $20/bottle, which gives it an astronomic quality-price-ratio.

In fact, the bottle I'm reviewing today was purchased during my Japan trip this past spring. I only bought one because my suitcase exploded. For real...


...okay never mind. I had photographic evidence of the terrible violence caused by too many whisky bottles. But I can't find it amongst my 1200+ photos and it's past midnight here so you'll have to take my word for it.

Ownership: Nikka
Type: Blended Whisky
Region: Japan (and others?)
Distilleries: Miyagikyo and Yoichi (and others?)
Age: ???
Maturation: ???
Bottling code: 6/08G241515
Alcohol by Volume: 51.4%

The nose is malty, leafy, full of honey and roasted almond notes. Wood (mesquite and sandalwood) smoke. Burnt beef. Pound cake with orange syrup and mint leaves. When in a tumbler, it has notes of currants, roses and eucalyptus.

The palate is moderately sweet, citric and spicy: brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice and lime juice. Some older toffeed malt swimming around in there. Sea Salt. Vanilla bean. A medicinal hint. It has a thick mouthfeel and shows very little of its ABV.

It finishes with citrus and salted caramels. Brown sugar and the nose's wood smoke. Hints of melon liqueur and bitter greens.

This whisky is perfect for pouring too much into a tumbler and then totally underestimating the alcohol strength and then going for subsequent rounds and then wondering why it feels like someone parked a Buick Enclave on your back at 5:30am.

And though this isn't my best bottle of NWFTB, it does help make a stellar cocktail. And I'll share that recipe......someday.

Is this whisky delicious? Yes.
Is there Scotch in it? Probably not.
If there was Scotch in it would that affect my opinion of the whisky? No.
If the words "Japanese Whisky" appeared on the label, what would those words mean? I don't know.

Availability - Japan and Europe, more prevalent than the Pure Malts
Pricing - 500mL - $20-$25 Japan, $45-$55 Europe (w/shipping)
Rating - 87