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Tom Bielagus

Need Japanese whiskey recommendations

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Tom Bielagus

Hi everyone,

I’m fairly new to the whiskey world. So far, I’ve had the following that I enjoy quite a bit:  Bourbons — Four Roses Single Barrel and Angles Envy,  Scotch — Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, Balvenie  14 Caribbean Cask,  and Abelour 12, and Irish — Redbreast 12. Any recommendations for Japanese whiskies would be greatly appreciated. I’ve read that the Nikka Coffee Grain is quite good.

 

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Kane

Not an expert by any means, but here is my $0.02: Stay away for the time being, and spend your money on Scotch instead :)

 

Japanese whisky craze has gotten so out of hand that availability is terrible, and as a result prices are also ridiculous. 3 years ago I'd have suggested the trio of Yamazaki 12, Hakushu 12, and Hibiki 12 to a beginner. These used to be the basic offerings from Suntory, but delicious & quality nonetheless. You could also buy them from your favorite grocery store's liquor section for $40-50 a bottle. Well, they are still quality, but the prices are now x2-3, and you'd need to spend a lot of time tracking down a bottle. They have officially achieved LE status. Each series now also has cheaper NAS expressions, but they're nowhere as good. If you are really curious, and have money to burn, get one of the 12 year olds; these are stellar bottles. Don't bother going after the 18yo expressions, not worth it.

 

Nikka Coffey Grain is good, but keep in mind that it is grain whisky and not malt. I find it a bit too mild and easy-drinking, without much character. There is also the Nikka Coffey Malt, a decent one. But my recommendation would be Nikka From The Barrel, it is a solid inexpensive blended whisky.

 

A lot of the other stuff you'll see on the shelves will be very basic, inoffensive, unexciting whisky. The price tags will not reflect that!

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tanstaafl2
10 hours ago, Kane said:

Nikka Coffey Grain is good, but keep in mind that it is grain whisky and not malt. I find it a bit too mild and easy-drinking, without much character. There is also the Nikka Coffey Malt, a decent one. But my recommendation would be Nikka From The Barrel, it is a solid inexpensive blended whisky.

 

A lot of the other stuff you'll see on the shelves will be very basic, inoffensive, unexciting whisky. The price tags will not reflect that!

Nikka From The Barrel is indeed a very nice blended Japanese whisky with a hint of smoke at a solid 102.8 pf sold in a somewhat distinctive rectangular 500 ml bottle and usually packaged in a black rectangular box for a fairly reasonable price. Although it too has gone up in price a bit in recent years. What hasn't?.

 

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Just be aware that Nikka From The Barrel is not typically sold in the US but tends to be a regular feature of travel retail in major European airports. And probably Japan of course although I haven't been there in a while!

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Bob_Loblaw

Although I have moved my focus to Bourbon, I do still like the Japanese Single Malts

 

I enjoyed Hibiki Harmony (the new non age stated one) thought it was floral and light, very easy drinking.  

 

Hakashu 12 was also very good.  The light peat made it more refreshing then medicinal than traditional peated scotches like Laphroig.

 

Any of course Yamazaki 12 if you can find it is always fantastic.  

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kevinbrink

I'm on the side who thinks prices are too crazy, I did like Hibiki 12 and Yamazaki 12 the last time I had them but I wouldn't spend the money to buy them at today's prices, there are better Malts for less money in Scotland and Ireland.

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Kane
On 10/16/2017 at 2:40 PM, Bob_Loblaw said:

Hakashu 12 was also very good.  The light peat made it more refreshing then medicinal than traditional peated scotches like Laphroig.

So, if you guys have been following the new bottles threads, I scored a Hakushu 12 for $79 last week (i.e., Total Wine black magic), and just cracked it open. Sipping it now after many years I am shedding a tear of joy, this is indeed so very different from Scotch peat. I think it doesn't have that sea breeze/iodine/coastal thing, as it was aged on top of a mountain, hence the lack of medicinal flavors. Over the years I've become well-acquainted with typical peated whiskies, so I appreciate the difference even more now.

 

It really sucks that the typical going price is $120-150 these days.

 

Story time: Hakushu was actually my gateway to peated whisky. I remember having it SBS with Yamazaki 12 and Hibiki 12 at a sushi restaurant, and  it was the first peated drink that I found genuinely delicious. Story time.2: First time I had Highland Park 12 was in a classy hotel bar for a business meeting. I darted out of my chair, ran to the restroom and threw up.

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birdie

Nikka Coffey Malt I find to be really good, I think it was the 2018 Japanese Whiskey of the Year in the 2018 Jim Murray Whiskey Bible, which meant it disappeared off the shelves around here for a bit, but is available and a good choice, Hibiki 12/17 are both great "if "you can find them and want to spend the money.

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GreggJ

Funny, I was going to recommend Nikka Coffey Grain or FTB.  if you want something higher end and can find it the Taketsuru 17yo is the best Japanese whisky I have tasted,   It is extremely unique and imho excellent whisky.

 

I see that there is now a Coffey Malt in addition to the Coffey grain.  Has anyone sampled them?  Curious about the Malt version.  Thanks.  

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fenderbender4

If you ever come across a 12 year age stated Nikka Taketsuru...buy it.  Very good but on top of that very unique and honestly the "smoothest" yet flavorful whisky I've had, literally no alcohol burn.  Unique experience.

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Whiskeythink.com

Nikka FTB was named WA's 2018 #1. Now available in the US for aroung $60. Ive already finished one & getting another. I found it quite complex with many bourbon-like notes while still being malty. 

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lcpfratn
Nikka FTB was named WA's 2018 #1. Now available in the US for aroung $60. Ive already finished one & getting another. I found it quite complex with many bourbon-like notes while still being malty. 

I agree...it’s great whiskey!

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tanstaafl2
On 12/5/2018 at 9:30 AM, Whiskeythink.com said:

Nikka FTB was named WA's 2018 #1. Now available in the US for aroung $60. Ive already finished one & getting another. I found it quite complex with many bourbon-like notes while still being malty. 

I guess it is because it is new to the US? Not like it is new to the world market. Has been available, at least in in travel retail, for a number of years.

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