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Thursday, March 21, 2024

Nikka Session, a world blended malt

Nikka's blends and vattings have held more than just Japanese ingredients for a long time, at least since their parent company, Asahi, purchased the Ben Nevis distillery in 1989. It wasn't until 2020 that they finally outed one of their creations as "world" whisky, just like their main competitor, Suntory, did the previous year.

Nikka Session mixes Yoichi, Miyagikyo, and Ben Nevis malts, and three fine malts those are. The label has a bit of a Vegas gentleman's club feel to it, which is......a thing. The whisky has been chillfiltered and reduced to 43%abv. It's probably been colored too but much less so than yesterday's grain. Was Nikka trying to create a "session" whisky like a session beer, something that can be casually consumed in quantity over an evening (or morning)? And isn't that what most major blends aim to do? Or maybe it's referring to a music session, or a therapy session. Or all of the above?

Sláinte + Kanpai = Sláin-pai

Ownership: Nikka
Type: Blended malt
Regions: Japan and Scotland
Distilleries: Miyagikyo, Yoichi, and Ben Nevis
Age: ???
Maturation: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
(thank you, Doctors Springbank!)


Lemon blossoms, fennel seeds, and ginger snap cookies lead the nose, followed by bread and kiwi juice. Its vanilla note grows with time. The palate starts off light and floral, with a pretty note of passionfruit candy. Mild bitter, sea salt, and chile oil notes help mellow the sweetness for a while, but can't keep the sugar down forever, especially once the toasted oak spices arrive. It concludes with white peaches, brown sugar, and a slight sourness.


Indeed, Nikka Session is an easy drinker. One could overpour this onto a big ice cube and drink it mindlessly. So the whisky probably achieved its purpose; as in, it could get someone terrifyingly drunk via fewer calories than session beers. I don't think I could have picked out the Yoichi or Ben Nevis, rather it seems like a young, diluted, slightly oaky Miyagikyo. Not bad, not great, and if it's still going for its SRP in Japan then the price is right.

Availability - Mostly Japan, and a few dozen retailers in Europe and USA
Pricing - it was in the $30s in Japan, but now $100-$200 in The West
Rating - 80