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jinenjo
03-01-2007, 19:03
I was in El Cerrito and went to a favorite Japanese grocery (Yao-Ya-San), was checking out their sake/sho-chu selection and noticed they had some whiskies from Nikka. I was totally shocked and delighted to see some Japanese malts here in the US other than the two single malts from Yamazaki. What I found were two blends from Nikka. One called Gold and Gold, the other Super Nikka. I took home Super Nikka because it was the last one. The photo is from an ad or something I found online.

Well I couldn't wait to open it and once I did I was delighted to taste a very smooth and extremely balanced malt.

Has anyone had this before? Also, I get the feeling it is not a true blend but rather a vatted malt (unlike the Scotch designation). Do you know if Japanese blends have neutral grain distillate added? It sure doesn't taste like it. The Scotch blends I've had distinctly taste like the GNS.

Of the Japanese malts I've tasted, mostly from Tim at DougDog's study group, I enjoyed immensely. This one has a nice malty taste and as Murray states in the Whisky Bible "honeyed notes".

Cheers,
Lear

CrispyCritter
03-01-2007, 20:28
That sounds very interesting. I've had Yamazaki 12, and I have no complaints, but Yamazaki 18 is expensive enough that I've never tried it.

I've never seen a Nikka product in Chicagoland, but I'll have to see if there might be a Japanese market that carries Nikka.

Edward_call_me_Ed
03-01-2007, 21:36
I was in El Cerrito and went to a favorite Japanese grocery (Yao-Ya-San), was checking out their sake/sho-chu selection and noticed they had some whiskies from Nikka. I was totally shocked and delighted to see some Japanese malts here in the US other than the two single malts from Yamazaki. What I found were two blends from Nikka. One called Gold and Gold, the other Super Nikka. I took home Super Nikka because it was the last one. The photo is from an ad or something I found online.

Well I couldn't wait to open it and once I did I was delighted to taste a very smooth and extremely balanced malt.

Has anyone had this before? Also, I get the feeling it is not a true blend but rather a vatted malt (unlike the Scotch designation). Do you know if Japanese blends have neutral grain distillate added? It sure doesn't taste like it. The Scotch blends I've had distinctly taste like the GNS.

Of the Japanese malts I've tasted, mostly from Tim at DougDog's study group, I enjoyed immensely. This one has a nice malty taste and as Murray states in the Whisky Bible "honeyed notes".

Cheers,
Lear

The Super Nikka is a very good whiskey. I just got out my bottle and checked and it says it is malt and grain. So it is definitely a blend of malt whiskey and grain whiskey. I don't have any idea what the percentages are and haven't had it in a while, but I am guessing that there is a lot of malt in it. I also don't know what cut they take when they make the grain whiskey. I know that is a lot of, "I don't knows" I will see if I can find out more.

I also have a bottle of Super Nikka Whiskey Vatted Pure Malt that I like quite a lot. It weights in at a hefty abv of 55.5% I have seen, but not tried an extra aged Super Nikka. IIRC, always a chancy business, it is 15 years old. It was a little expensive but not outrageously so. I will have to pick up a bottle, finances permitting.

Ed

jinenjo
03-02-2007, 17:11
Thanks for the info, Ed.

Yeah, it sure is good stuff! In Murray's bible he writes it has some peat in it, but adds there are other bottlings without peat. Mine must be the latter.

As for the percentage of GNS, it surely must be low. I can barely taste it, if at all.

What a great find if I say so myself. And for $23!! Who knows if I'll come upon it again? Part of the thrill of finding this bottle was in knowing how rare it was to purchase it in the U.S. I just wish there were more Japanese malts available here.

Speaking of peated Japanese malts... do you, Ed, or anyone know how they peat their malts? Do the Japanese distilleries import peat from Scotland? Grow their own? Import peated barley malt?

Kampai!
-Lear

cowdery
03-03-2007, 08:51
Japanese blends are like Scottish blends and, for that matter, Irish and Canadian blends, in that the blending whiskey is a very high proof whiskey made in a column still from unmalted grains, but it is aged in barrels and is, therefore, considered whiskey and not GNS. American blended whiskey is the only blended whiskey that contains GNS, and because of that it cannot be exported as whiskey.

Edward_call_me_Ed
03-03-2007, 15:22
Japanese blends are like Scottish blends and, for that matter, Irish and Canadian blends, in that the blending whiskey is a very high proof whiskey made in a column still from unmalted grains, but it is aged in barrels and is, therefore, considered whiskey and not GNS. American blended whiskey is the only blended whiskey that contains GNS, and because of that it cannot be exported as whiskey.

What Chuck says is true, but Nikka does do some things with at least one of their blends that doesn't quite match the above. Nikka's All Malt is a blend of two types of Malt Whiskies distilled in pot and patent stills. A patent still is the same thing as a column still. Are they taking a very high proof cut from the patent still? Probably, but since they are already doing something very different from other blenders they well might be taking a different cut as well. They do other things differently, too. I have been told, on the Whisky Magazine Forum, that some of the Malt in Nikka Pure Malt Black Label is aged in new charred oak barrels instead of the traditional used cooperage. I am planning to visit their Yoichi distillery this month. I will try to ask some questions.

Ed

Edward_call_me_Ed
03-03-2007, 16:09
Thanks for the info, Ed.

Yeah, it sure is good stuff! In Murray's bible he writes it has some peat in it, but adds there are other bottlings without peat. Mine must be the latter.

As for the percentage of GNS, it surely must be low. I can barely taste it, if at all.

What a great find if I say so myself. And for $23!! Who knows if I'll come upon it again? Part of the thrill of finding this bottle was in knowing how rare it was to purchase it in the U.S. I just wish there were more Japanese malts available here.

Speaking of peated Japanese malts... do you, Ed, or anyone know how they peat their malts? Do the Japanese distilleries import peat from Scotland? Grow their own? Import peated barley malt?

Kampai!
-Lear

Hi Lear,

My bottle is peaty. A very balanced peatiness. I like the Islay peat monsters and often am put off by more subtly peated whiskies. While Nikka Super is by no means a peat monster, the peat is there in such a balanced way that I don't find myself wishing for a stronger note.

As to where they get their peat...

A friend of mine is a peat expert, agricultural peat. I once asked him about the peat they use for making whiskey here in Japan. IIRC, he said that in the early days they imported peat from Scotland but that now days they use peat dug in Hokkaido. But I am not sure that peat is being dug in Hokkaido now. At least for agricultural porposes that is no longer being done, but it might be that they are still digging enough for whiskey production. I will ask both my friend and the tour guides at Yoichi about this and get back to you.

Ed

jinenjo
03-03-2007, 18:02
I have been told, on the Whisky Magazine Forum, that some of the Malt in Nikka Pure Malt Black Label is aged in new charred oak barrels instead of the traditional used cooperage. I am planning to visit their Yoichi distillery this month. I will try to ask some questions.

Ed

That sounds quite interesting. I've heard you say good things about the Pure Malt Black label on other posts. Wish I could try some of that! I'm picturing a heavy bourbon style influence.

As for your peat answer, thanks. It at least tells me they use their own peat in some form, and not by importing peated malt (a la McCarthy's).

Lear

Edward_call_me_Ed
03-03-2007, 18:18
That sounds quite interesting. I've heard you say good things about the Pure Malt Black label on other posts. Wish I could try some of that! I'm picturing a heavy bourbon style influence.

Lear

Jim Murray likes the Black Lable too. He rates it a 95, at least he rates one batch that high. giving it a perfect 25 for balance. I wouldn't say that it has a heavy bourbon style influence, maybe light. It has a wonderful peat smoke note that is not Islay-like. Probably most like Talisker 10 without the pepper. Smoother and sweeter than Talisker, that might be the new wood at work.

Ed

jinenjo
03-04-2007, 19:17
I guess I thought of bourbon due to new charred barrels. I suppose the distillate (in this case, malted barley) really does hold the overall effect.

Edward_call_me_Ed
03-21-2007, 07:53
They do other things differently, too. I have been told, on the Whisky Magazine Forum, that some of the Malt in Nikka Pure Malt Black Label is aged in new charred oak barrels instead of the traditional used cooperage. I am planning to visit their Yoichi distillery this month. I will try to ask some questions.

Ed

I did go and had a great time. I asked about the peat they use and was told that they used Hokkaido peat, specifically Ishikari peat. They did, way back when, use Scottish peat. I was surprised to learn that they use Scottish barley at Yoichi. Plenty of barley is grown here for the beer industry, so why don't they use native barley? Our tour guide didn't know.

She told us that refill bourbon and refill sherry wood was used in aging Yoichi Single Malt. What surprised me was that they use new charred American oak barrels, too. A number of different barrel sizes as well. I told her that in Scotland they never use new wood to age scotch which surprised her.

I want to go back next month. Our guide told us that the stills will be running then.

Ed

jinenjo
03-22-2007, 23:03
Thanks for the info about Japanese peat. Useful information, indeed!

Wow. What I wouldn't do to go back to Japan. (I had to pour some of the Super Nikka now, just to get into the spirit!). I was there in '01 and spent most of my money on food, hot springs, youth hostels, and bullet train fare. At the time I was only drinking Scotch. I may've had some sake, but that was the extent of it. Now I know what I missed and left behind...

Ed, a bit off topic, but I happened to see another Japanese blend the other day. Was wondering if you've tried it or know anything about it. The bottle was Suntory Royal. It comes in a quite elegant decanter-like bottle, short with squared edges. I checked in Murray's book but only saw listings called Royal 12, and 15 (years). At the liquor store I didn't inspect the bottle closely enough, and saw no age statement on the front label. Could there also be a third version without an an age?

Cheers,
Lear

Edward_call_me_Ed
03-23-2007, 00:41
Thanks for the info about Japanese peat. Useful information, indeed!


Ed, a bit off topic, but I happened to see another Japanese blend the other day. Was wondering if you've tried it or know anything about it. The bottle was Suntory Royal. It comes in a quite elegant decanter-like bottle, short with squared edges. I checked in Murray's book but only saw listings called Royal 12, and 15 (years). At the liquor store I didn't inspect the bottle closely enough, and saw no age statement on the front label. Could there also be a third version without an an age?

Cheers,
Lear

I have a bottle of the Suntory Royal 12. I don't remember drinking it but must have since the bottle is open. I haven't seen a no age statement version, at least I don't recall one. I will give it a try soon and seen what I think of it. My bottle has the age on the lable and a little plastic medalion with the age on it.


Ed

jinenjo
03-29-2007, 22:55
Well I couldn't resist the opportunity to buy a Japanese malt otherwise unavailable here in the US. I picked up the Suntory Royal (no age statement) and am very pleased. It seems to be a balanced malt, very tasty like the Super Nikka but without any sherry influence. This seems to have a distant hint of peat as well. Overall nice daily dram type whiskey.

As I was researching more info about it I came across this video. A great, artistic commercial from Japan. The bottle appears to be exactly what I purchased.

Enjoy!
-Lear

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIaa5uhJF3o

cowdery
03-30-2007, 15:32
I haven't had a lot of Japanese whiskey but my impression of what I have had is that it is a very clean spirit, with a definite malt whiskey quality, excellent balance, and mild without being bland.

It strikes me, in thinking about this, that one advantage American whiskey has in worldwide markets is its distinctiveness. Japanese whiskey as well as the whiskey made in Wales, France and a couple of other places all resemble scotch. American whiskey does not.

jinenjo
03-30-2007, 22:18
Clean taste it is indeed! Leave it to the Japanese to produce a very refined product (think of how clean and simple Japanese cuisine is compared to Italian, for instance).

TMH
04-08-2007, 02:56
Clean taste it is indeed! Leave it to the Japanese to produce a very refined product (think of how clean and simple Japanese cuisine is compared to Italian, for instance).

Hi Lear, check your inbox for my PM.

Generally Japanese whiskies are very clean and pure tasting; however, if you ever have a chance to taste a Yoichi Single Cask whisky, you will be pleasantly surprised. I have found Yoichi cask strengh whiskies to be complex, sometimes very peaty, fat and heavy, with some bourbon qualities.

I believe this is the result of the use of new and refurbished barrels, onsite peat malting, and the coal heated pot stills with downward sloping arms.

My first bottle of Yoichi 10yr Single Cask tasted similar to a 13yr Laphroaig from Signatory I had (Dougdog can confirm this). After a year of being opened, the whisky realy changed. The peat dropped way off and it took on some strong bourbon qualities with intense cinnamon overtones.