Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt Japanese Whisky (700ml)
Back in 2015, Nikka announced they were discontinuing their age statement and No Age Statement (NAS) releases for the Yoichi and Miyagikyo labels and consolidating them into two new bottlings. These whiskies have now arrived in Australia. Two NAS versions that differ slightly to the previous versions now represent the entire portfolio. It was yet another move that triggered a buying rush. Reports have it that Tokyo is now pretty much out of age statement Japanese whiskies, unless you visit bars or auction houses.Nikka's reasons for the radical new strategy are now familiar. They simply have no old stocks to sell.
Decades ago, both local and world demand for Japanese malts was low, so few barrels were being laid down for extended periods.
Stefan Van Eycken, writing for www.nonjatta.com explains "...there were years, at both Yoichi and Miyagikyo distillery, when the barrels laid down for maturation could be counted on the fingers of one hand. The ‘stock shortage’ is not an excuse or a PR stunt – it’s very real. Sources within Nikka have said that it is ‘likely’ that age-statement single malts will be brought back in 5 or 6 years’ time. No official statement to that effect has been made for the simple reason that doing so – in Japan – would be interpreted as a promise (which could come back to haunt them in 6 years’ time)."
The dropping of age statements doesn't always translate into a drop in quality. Early reviews for both releases have been very positive. Evidently, Chief blender Tadashi Sakuma has risen to the challenge of creating a great assemblage from a restricted inventory.
Other reviews... One for no age statement naysayers. An eloquent expression of sweet osmanthus, baked lemon, yuzu, violin resin, rich malts, and bonfire aromas on a favorite woolen jumper. It glides across the tongue with sweet barley sugar, but attests to greater depths; grapefruit, spicy ginger, and mandarin developing milk chocolate-coated, candied lemon flavors. A firm finish: green cardamom spices slowly releasing their grip on the front of the palate, leaving clingy vanilla. Unbound by an age statement, it’s a beautiful offering. 88 points - whiskyadvocate.com, reviewed by: Jonny McCormick (Winter 2016)
...Marigold/deep straw color; superb purity. Immediate smells after the pour are grainy, malty, and like brown rice, with background touches of baking spices (allspice, mace), tofu, and soy sauce; secondary inhalations encounter “greener”, more vegetal aromas that eclipse the baking spices. Entry is subtle, keenly spicy (the baking spices make a big return), desert dry, and moderately malty; midpalate features a delightfully and satisfying crisp flavor profile that borders on being astringent and edgy as the maltiness merges nicely with the resiny oak, providing a tightly focused taste experience that’s clean and intensely grainy. Finishes a little too short, deeply malty, and even now a touch peppery. Had the aftertaste not dropped off too abruptly, I’d have given this single malt a fifth rating star. It has a lot going for it.
Highly Recommended - www.spiritjournal.com