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Japan’s shortage of matured malt whisky is well publicised, and expressions such as this one are increasingly hard to come by. Nikka Taketsuru is a wonderful blended malt whisky, composed of spirits from Nikka’s two malt whisky distilleries, Yoichi and Miyagikyo. Aged for 17 years, this is a Japanese whisky of a rare age and complexity – a fitting tribute to the legendary founder of the Nikka company, Masataka Taketsuru.
Sendai, Tōhoku, Japan
Without Masataka Taketsuru, there’s a good chance that Japan’s whisky industry wouldn’t exist. Taketsuru staked everything on discovering just how the Scots managed to make their single malt – travelling to Scotland just after the conclusion of World War One.
A trained chemist, Taketsuru was meticulous and talented, but perhaps his greatest attribute was determination. In Scotland, he effectively went door to door at distilleries, trying to glean as much experience as he could, all whilst maintaining a degree in chemistry at the University of Glasgow.
Despite the prejudice and hostility he faced, Taketsuru was welcomed at a couple of distilleries – specifically Longmorn and Hazelburn – and returned to Japan armed with vital distilling knowledge, and a new Scottish wife.
More than a century on from Taketsuru’s journey, and Nikka Whisky (the company he founded a few years after his return) is in rude health, as this delightful dram shows. Truly, one of the all time great Japanese drams.
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Lush aromas of fruit salad flavoured lollies, vanilla ice cream and fragrant oak take hold. With time, a little sultana, fig and marmalade on malt toast comes through. Delightful.
Full bodied and very faithful to the nose, here adding dark chocolate, coffee bean, orange rind, a concentrated toasted malt flavour, toffee and thick vanilla custard.
Extremely long, with the Yoichi peat-smoke finally showing – but gently, and alongside persistent flavours of bittersweet oak, tart cacao and subtle black pepper spice.