95 Points – Whisky AdvocateNikka Whisky was established in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru, the first Japanese to ever study the art of whisky production. He built the company’s first distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido, a location which he had always considered to be ideal for whisky production, similar in many ways to the Scottish town where he had studied. Miyagikyo, Nikka’s second distillery, was built in 1969 in Sendai, Honshu, another pristine location perfectly suited to whisky production.
Distilled and matured for at least fifteen years at the Yoichi Distillery, Nikka Whisky “Yoichi” 15 Year Old is a long-awaited single malt which has finally reached US shores. The distinctive characteristics of this whisky are attributed to a traditional distillation process, in which pot stills are heated with finely powdered natural coal. The resulting spirit offers a refined nose of orchard fruit, roasted nuts, creamy vanilla and oak, with an undercurrent of smoke. Complex, layered notes of ripe apple, walnut, salted caramel, clove, cinnamon and dark chocolate emerge on the full-bodied palate, with hints of black olive and sea salt lingering through the smokey finish.
Product of Japan
Alcohol by Volume: 45%
Hibiki is Suntorys’ flagship blended whisky. This an award-winning (a gold medal winner in the Japanese section of Whisky Magazine’s Best of the Best 2005) premium blend.
” Nose: Ripe soft and pillow like with hints of smoke and toasty wood. Citrus leaf, cocoa, cooked apricot, ripe banana, hazelnut giving a crunch. Palate: Toffee sweetness stretches along the palate. Very clean and clear. Sweet with sultana and cherry. The finish is long and silky. Relaxed and laid back. This is excellent blending.”
(Dave Broom-Whisky Magazine Issue 64)
Hibiki 12 is a widely-acclaimed blend of 12 year-old (or greater) Japanese whisky from global giant Suntory. It includes malts from Yamazaki and Hakushu and grain from Chita distillery, along with whiskies from several other Japanese distilleries. The components are aged in a variety of casks including ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and casks that once held Umeshu, a plum liqueur (making Hibiki 12 unique, as this bottling is the only Suntory product with malt aged in Umeshu casks). The vatting of these whiskies is then filtered through bamboo charcoal and bottled at 43% ABV.
93 points Whisky Advocate
Deep, mature in nature, and very complex. Notes of polished leather, maple syrup, and dark pit fruit, with suggestions of tobacco smoke, wood shavings, and unsweetened chocolate. References to fine old bourbon and ultra-matured pot-still rum provide intrigue. Proof that Japan produces some outstanding, distinctive whiskies. Nicely done!
The Suntory whiskies are handcrafted at Japan’s oldest distillery, built by the founder of Suntory–Shinjiro Torii–in 1923. This was named “Best in Class” at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in 2006 and awarded a Double Gold Medal at the 2005 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This will wow any fan of single malt whisky with its spicy cherry, date, toffee and orange notes and its long, dry finish.
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
One of the world’s best-selling malts, Glenfiddich 12yo’s famous triangular bottle is a fixture in practically every bar on the globe. Light and easy-drinking stuff loved by millions.
Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The nose is indistinct and a bit on the grainy side, touched with light sawdust/wood notes. On the palate, I’m immediately reminded of Bourbon, with vanilla and chewy wood up front. This settles down quickly as the malt notes rapidly emerge: breakfast cereal, sesame seed, seaweed and salt, a touch of chicory, and — curiously — a bit of orange peel, which is weird considering this is not a sherried whisky.
Matured wholly in air-dried, hand-selected ex-bourbon casks, the ‘unashamedly excellent’ Old Pulteney 12-years-old is the definitive expression in the Old Pulteney family. Traditionally crafted using techniques that other distillers have long abandoned, this winner of numerous gold medals at the most prestigious international competitions is a high water-mark of quality spirits.
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Exclusively matured in first and second fill ex bourbon casks, then blissfully married together, Small Batch exhibits the best qualities of both. First-fill bourbon offers delicious vanilla sweetness, subtle spices and bourbon oak smoke to complement Bowmore’s gentle peaty smokiness, while the second-fill cask enhances Bowmore’s fresh fruity complexity and showcases its trademark honey and creamy malt character.
Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Glenmorangie’s 10 year old sets a high standard for Highland whisky, and has gone from strength to strength as ‘The Original’ since its slightly controversial packaging redesign a few years ago. Medium-bodied and gently warming, with plasant spicy notes.