...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Nikka Tsuru 17 year old blended whisky

I don't know much about today's whisky, but I could not pass up a chance to try a 17 year old Nikka thingamabob. "Tsuru" comes from the surname of Japanese whisky pioneer and Nikka founder, Masataka Taketsuru. Taketsuru = bamboo crane. Tsuru = crane. Cranes decorated the bottom half of the white phallic ceramic decanter when Nikka chose that format. The same birds adorned the stopper of Tsuru's glass bottle editions. The Tsuru line also had a cheaper NAS version for some time.

Some sites say the Tsurus were retired in 2016-2017, while other folks say they tried the whisky at Yoichi distillery not too long ago. Either way, I'm pretty sure the Tsurus were blended whiskies, acting almost like little siblings to the Taketsuru blended malt range.

Ownership: Nikka
Range: Tsuru
Type: Blended Whisky
Region: Japan (and others?)
Distilleries: Miyagikyo, Yoichi, and Nishinomiya (and others?)
Age: at least 17 years
Maturation: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
(from a bottle split)


The nose is a bit vague and blurry at first. Some nondescript fruits and florals, with peanuts and almonds, gentle toasted oak. But, the citrus fruit notes sharpen with time, baking spices appear, and at times it smells like a bag of mixed Kasugai gummies.

The Nishinomiya grain seems to control the palate. It's very sweet, with some oranges and cream(-ish) sherry. Sometimes ashy, other times cardboardy, but frequently bitter, it doesn't work well as a sipper.

The palate's sweetness dominates the finish. Black pepper, tannins, and tangy citrus stay far behind.


I probably should have put this in an (expensive) mizuwari, because that must have been its purpose. One can't help but compare it to Chivas 18yo, thinking of all the great malt content buried within the blend. It smells nice, but even 17 year old grain whisky smells nice, and a higher ABV may not have solved the palate. A standard 17yo Nikka blend sounds like a very good idea in the current marketplace (or always), so perhaps this could be resurrected with a little more Yoichi in the recipe, perhaps?

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - ???
Rating - 77