• 93
  • 95
  • 92
  • 90

Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky (700ml)

$134. 99
$1619.88 Dozen
ABV: 45%

Jim Murray's Japanese Whisky of the Year for 2023.

Grain whiskies are almost entirely reserved for the blended whisky market, where the grain component can be thought of as the 'neutral canvas' background. The more robust and flavourful Single Malts represent the colours in the blender's palate. Grain whiskies aren't necessarily bland, but they do tend towards lighter, leaner styles. This is because the raw materials and the equipment used to make grain whisky are different than those found in the production of single malt. In grains, usually unmalted wheat or maize (corn) feature, together with a small amount of 'green' malt (barley which has germinated but not been kilned). Usually about 16% malt is added in order to convert the starches in the other cereals into sugar, so it can be turned into alcohol by the yeast. The distillation process further sets grain whiskies apart: Rather than being pot distilled, they’re produced via column stills. Also known as 'Continuous' or 'Coffey Stills', this revolutionary invention from a French born, Irish raised Dublin Excise Officer, Aeneas Coffey, has forever changed the way most spirits are made. Significantly more efficient than the Pot still, column stills can produce a consistently light bodied and clean spirit to a pre-determined strength.

While the category is rarely marketed, there are several outstanding grain whiskies that are worth seeking out. Nikka's is one, and all the more unusual for being Japanese. Nikka have released a number of single cask Coffey distilled grain whiskies over the last few years. This is a larger scale offering, produced mainly from corn using their continuous Scottish-made Coffey stills at Miyagikyo. Tasted from a 40ml sample, the whisky yields superb scents of vanilla cream combined with hints of ripe pear or dried banana. Second pass finds tea biscuits and shortbread with the creaminess maintained. Silky, almost oily delivery offers semi-sweet Irish pot still-like flavours: vanilla wafer, muesli, then added pepper to finish. Concludes sufficiently fresh, caramelly, vanilla-heavy with shortbread and lingering sugars in the aftertaste. Irish whiskey meets Venezuelan rum. Delicious. 45% Alc./Vol.

Other reviews… I'll just repeat about the finish exactly what I wrote last year... because nothing has changed: it is identical... every year I look at the latest bottling of this astonishing grain, searching for a weakness here, a failing there. But no. Guaranteed consistency: it is like a song you know the words to and can sing along with. I has always linked silk with China... until I found this whisky all those years back. And it is as soft and luxurious now as it has ever been. Wonderful! 95.5 points - Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2023

...n24 Molten muscovado sugar; t24.5 Soft oils carry the thinned golden syrup aloft. Almost a semi-liqueur, but with that indefineable whiskyness which sets it apart...; f22.5 The slight bitterness of the cask jolts the serenity of the oily sugars; b23.5 whisky, from any part of the globe, does not come more soft or silky than this. 94.5 points - Jim Murray Whisky Bible 2015

...Sweet, with subtle, crisp, nutty oak, then comes fudge, ripe banana, and peach. The overall effect is like eating vanilla ice cream with toffee fudge and hazelnut sprinkles. The structure is thick and physical, the palate sweet and quite fat, with light hints of raspberry, fruit salad. A jag of acidity freshens the delivery on the finish. With water there’s more toffee, and it becomes slightly more yielding, with less oak. For me the gold standard of grain. 92 points - whiskyadvocate.com (Fall 2015) Reviewed by: Dave Broom

...Look for a light vanilla sweetness at first, which gives way to a rounded dark chocolate note and baking spice finish. Recommended for highballs and other mixed drinks. 90 points - wineenthusiast.com

"This is not "Japanese Bourbon" or even "Japanese Corn Whiskey." This is quite something...else. There is no age statement, but the benchmark for this whisky is 8-12 years. The profile is carnival candy filled, and while it is slick, it is not sticky sweet on your palate. Some vanilla and cinnamon are added to the flavors found along with honey wine and peaches." 91 points - distiller.com