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Nikka Yoichi 12 Year Old Single Malt Japanese Whisky (700ml)
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- ABV 45%
Whisky is big business in Japan with Scotch whisky being especially popular, yet with their own history of brewing and sake production, it's only logical that the Japanese are now making whisky too. What began as a conscious imitation of Scotch, now has a style all of its own, and since commercial production began in the early 20th century, the quality has been steadily improving.
Today, most of the malt whisky produced in Japan is for blending but Japanese distillers generally don't trade casks in the manner that Scottish distillers do. Consequently, it's up to each distillery to produce a diversity of styles that will form the base components of 'house blends' that offer unique and complex flavour profiles. Some Japanese blends will even include a percentage of Scotch whisky, rather than whisky from rival local distillers. This jealous reluctance to exchange whiskies is considered one of the major obstacles holding the industry back from the prominence it deserves: In a number of blind tastings recently organised by Whisky Magazine, which have included Japanese single malts in the lineup along with malts from distilleries considered to be among the best in Scotland, on more than one occasion, the results have had Japanese single malts scoring higher than their Scotch counterparts.After a long absence from the Australian market, we've finally managed to secure some world class Japanese whiskies from the Nikka distillery, Japan’s second largest whisky producer after Suntory. Now owned by the brewer Asahi, the company was originally set up by Masataka Taketsuru, who built Yoichi distillery in 1934, having previously spent two years studying the art of distilling in Scotland. (He also developed the now famous 'Yamazaki' distillery in Kyoto for Suntory which he managed for ten years). Yoichi typically produces rich, peaty and masculine malts. The whiskies get their distinct aroma and body from direct heating distillation, in which the pot stills are heated with finely powdered natural coal - a traditional method that's hardly used today, even in Scotland.
Tasting note: Soft smoke and under-ripe fruit. Profound chewy barley; lots of small still coppery sharpness and then a gentle awakening of peat. Sweet peats dusted with demera it takes some time for the chalky oak to finally have a say. Best when left in the glass for 10-15 minutes, only then does the true story emerge. 45% Alc./Vol.
Rating: 91 points - Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2009