Nikka Miyagikyo Sherry & Sweet Single Malt Japanese Whisky (500ml)
One of three high-strength editions labelled as "Distillery Limited" and originally available via the distillery only. Readers may remember Miyagikyo making headlines in September 2015 when they discontinued their entire range due to stock shortages caused by an unprecedented boom in Japanese whisky. The label returned to market with a single NAS expression. Since then it's been the only official release that's readily available - anything else comes from the secondary market or the distillery direct. If you've been wanting to up the ante and get closer to the 'real' taste of 100% Japanese whisky with no imported additives, this is a perfect opportunity. The 'Key Malts' series lands at a uniform 55% which is considered close enough to cask strength. At the time of writing, prices vary dramatically. In Australia, it's not unusual to pay $350 plus (if you can find them).
Miyagikyo is Nikka’s second distillery, opening in 1969. Some commentators still refer to it as Sendai, which was its name before Asahi took control of Nikka in 2001. Founder, Masataka Taketsuru's intention was to expand the variety of malts available for his blends, so from the outset, the aim was to build the polar opposite of Yoichi. He sited Miyagikyo partly because the Hirosegawa and Nikkagawa rivers deliver a high-quality water supply. That combined with Miyagikyo’s different natural environment and the use of steam heat distillation, as opposed to coal and direct flame, results in a malt with a relatively mild and fruity character compared to the more powerful style of its sister distillery. Pot stills at Miyagikyo are considerably bigger too, and include boil balls along with an upward sloping lyne arm. This all contributes to a considerable amount of copper contact, stripping out the heavier compounds and leaving a delicate style of newmake. Finally, more unpeated and lightly peated barley is utilised at Miyagikyo, with the majority imported from Scotland. This edition is named for the exclusive use of sherry casks during maturation. Expect aromas and flavours of raisins, plums and sweet spice.
Other reviews... In general, the Japanese sherried whiskies don’t do things by half, but this one’s not very dark, let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: bang, the same massive box of used matches as in the Yoichi in the same series. And there’s a lot of gunpowder too, so I think we could safely use the S word here. Behind this thick wall, some walnuts, mentholated tobacco, and perhaps dried porcinis. With water: mead and gunpowder. I know, sounds like the title of a mid-1960s spaghetti western. Mouth (neat): indeed, it reminds of the Yoichi. Unusual notes of burnt caramel, maraschino, and simply burnt cake. Some bitter notes of, well, bitter walnuts and bitter almonds. Not the easiest Miyagikyo ever. With water: it’s complicated. Finish: long, and it’s still quite complicated. Comments: not a fan of this one. Not for pacifists, there’s too much gunpowder for them. 77 points - whiskyfun.com