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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Three Miyagikyo Key Malts

Beatrice rounded up

Belated Happy Father's Day wishes to all the pappies out there. I hope you had plenty of time to drink alone, like I did.

Damn, that came across precisely as dark as I'd intended it.

Anyway, I'm back. The older folks out there might remember that Nikka's Japanese distilleries had a few 12yo versions of their Key Malts in previous decades. I had a chance to try a pair in Shinjuku, seven years ago.

But on this past Father's Day Eve, I did a side-by-side-by-side comparison of the trio of Miyagikyo Key Malts that were released in 2015-2017. All three were NAS (boooo), bottled at 55%abv (yay?). They were named Malty and Soft, Fruity and Rich, and Sherry and Sweet.

Were they any good, and did they do exactly what it says on the tin......?

Sendai Triplets

Malty and Soft - 55%abv
Fruity and Rich - 55%abv
Sherry and Sweet - 55%abv
Yep, malt on the nose. Malt, marshmallows, green apples and VOCs start things off. Complexity builds with time as orange peel, anise, grapefruit juice, caramel chews and a hint of barrel char appear.The VOC/raw note appears here too, but more forward than in the M&S's nose. It does have fruit though, specifically kiwis, oranges and yellow nectarines. Malt as well. Some banana pudding. Hint of toffee, hint of farm.Oloroso-style dry nuttiness leads the nose, followed by malt (again), brine, honey butter and the same raw note as the others. It picks up gunpowder and black raisin notes with time.
Wow, the palate is green. Barley, grass, thyme, rosemary and a hint of yeast fill it edge to edge for a while. Notes of ginger and tart kiwis materialize after some time.The palate reads more floral than fruity, and less graceful than expected. I find unripe peach, mild lemon, toasted rice and a hint of savoriness first. It gets sweeter slowly, picking up perkier citrus and Ito En's Genki sweet tea.This one has the thickest mouthfeel of the trio. A big A'bunadh-style sherriness leads the palate. Sweet cherries, bitter walnuts, dried currants and salt follow later.
It finishes with grass, ginger, malt and lime.The finish is both sweet and drying. Tannin, perhaps? It's also sort of dusty, with mild notes of lemon and lychee.Luxardo cherry syrup, milk chocolate, black raisins and a hint of dates in the finish.
Diluted to 45%abv:
Nice nose: malt, apples, roses, oranges and nut bread. The palate and finish get fruitier, with kiwis, limes and lychees, balancing the sweet and tart well. 
Diluted to 45%abv:
The nose loses its excitement and complexity. It feels blander, though it does hold onto flowers and citrus. The palate is bitterer, rougher. Peppery and acidic. It finishes tangy, tannic and lightly sweet.
Diluted to 45%abv:
Honey, raw nuts, dried currants and mild sulfur make up the nose. More sulfur on the palate now, with lots of dried fruit in the background. It finishes with tannins, raisins and sulfur.


Malty and Soft - It was malty, but I'm not sure about soft. None of these three were soft, possibly because they're all very young. But I really liked the greenness of the M&S's palate, as well as the nose's variety. Once dilution brought out the fruits, this one became the easy winner of the bunch. Still, this may not appeal to all palates.

Fruity and Rich - Japanese single malts can be gorgeously rich (and you have to be rich to buy them), but this one ain't rich. And the M&S may actually have been fruitier. But the palate got more interesting once ignored the "fruity" description, and the nose was very engaging. Just please keep it neat.

Sherry and Sweet - I'd read some complaints about the sulfuric nature of this one. When neat, I didn't sense that much of an issue, but at 45%abv there was some serious S. As mentioned in the notes, this Key Malt had a stylistic similarity to some Aberlour A'bunadh batches, though I'm not the biggest fan of that series. Curiously, despite the sulfur, this was the most forgettable of the three Key Malts.

Whew, all these young malts are beginning to get to me. I'm pretty sure M&S and F&R would have improved with 12+ years in casks, though who knows what would have happened to the S&S&S. Were I able to time travel and redirect part of my 2015 trip to Miyagikyo Distillery, I'd be happy to get the Malty and Soft. But I wouldn't change one moment of that voyage, and I don't have a time machine, yet. So it was great to have this opportunity to try these Key Malts.

Miyagikyo Malty and Soft - 87 
Miyagikyo Fruity and Rich - 83
Miyagikyo Sherry and Sweet - 81