Ultimate Beverage Challenge 89 points - Bright amber hued. An enticing nose of leather, bacon fat, nuts and rancio. Sprightly on the palate, with lively acidity and the same compelling nose follows through in the mouth. A treat of a whisky that lingers on the palate. (Mar 2013)
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Made from the blending of the two distilleries of Yoichi and Miyagikyo, this whisky was the pride of its creator Mastaka Taketsuru, founder of Nikka and father of Japanese whisky.
About the Distillery- YOICHI:
The Yoichi Distillery is located 50 kilometers west of Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido. It combines tradition with an aesthetic that only the Japanese can achieve.
Yoichi has an underground water source that is filtered through peat; the best water there is for whisky production. It has its own kiln topped with traditional pagoda-shaped chimneys. The pot stills are still heated by naked flame, a traditional method that has been abandoned by most of the Scottish distilleries.
The Yoichi distillery is located just one kilometer from the sea contributing to the complex character of this whisky, with its salty and slightly medicinal notes.
About the Distillery- MIYAGIKYO:
Miyagikyo is located on the island of Honshu, two hours by high-speed train to the northeast of Tokyo. Built in the foothills of the Miyagi prefecture, at the heart of a region famous for its waterfalls and many hot springs, the distillery is a true haven of peace. This site was chosen for its pure air and high humidity levels, ideal for ageing in barrels. The environment is similar to that of the Cairngorms region in the heart of Scotland. Miyagikyo, using large stills, produces a spirit that is rich and fruity with elegant aromas.
Masataka Taketsuru, Nikka’s founder and Father of Japanese Whisky, came from a lineage of sake brewers, dating back to 1733. Taketsuru studied diligently at university as a chemist preparing to carry on the family trade, but soon took a personal interest in whisky. Masataka joined Settsu Shuzo, a liquor company with plans to produce a Japanese whisky. In 1918, Settsu Shuzo sent Taketsuru to the University of Glasgow – making him the first Japanese student to study the art of whisky making, in the ancestral home of Scotch whisky.
Taketsuru returned to Japan in 1920 with plans to produce Japan’s first whisky for Settsu Shuzo. However, when Shuzo couldn’t carry out the plan, he was recruited by the founder of Kotobukiya – now Suntory - and directed to build Yamakazi and produce the first Japanese whisky. Relentlessly passionate about quality, Taketsuru used what he learned in Scotland to create the Japanese style of whisky, unique to the country. After a 10-year contract with Kotobukiya, Taketsuru left to build the Yoichi distillery in Hokkaido, where Nikka was born.
Unlike Scotland, where barrel samples are often traded between distilleries to create blended whiskies, Japanese distillers create numerous in-house variations from their own distillery’s new make spirit. In addition, oak treatment in Japan can range from first-fill American oak casks to used American barrels to former sherry butts, bourbon casks and even mizunara, an expensive Japanese oak.
Masataka established Nikka because he was determined to introduce his fellow Japanese to the joys of authentic whisky. In the decades since, as his company developed and the enjoyment of whisky became a fixture in Japan, he remained relentlessly passionate about quality. Never did he allow it to be sacrificed in favor of efficiency.