Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unexpected Love – Nikka Black

Nikka Black Pure Malt
Recently as part of another hot delivery from Master Of Malt I nabbed a few bottles of Japanese whisky as they are as rare as hens teeth her in Aus. I have always had a like for Japanese whisky and last year while attending Sydney Whisky Fair I was introduced to just some of the Nikka family line. When opportunity knocked for a cheeky import, Nikka Whisky was high on my list.

Nikka Whisky was established by Masataka Taketsuru in 1934. The first NIkka distillery was built in Yoichi, Hokkaido sighted by Masataka as having many environmental similarities to the requirements of Scottish whisky making. Son of a Sake brewer, Masataka studied how to make whisky in Scotland and also married a Scottish woman. A quick search on the internet and you will find many speak of him as The Father of Japanese Whisky. Nikka Whisky currently has 2 active distilleries being Yoichi distillery in Hokkaido, and Miyagikyo distillery on Honshu the main island of Japan.

Nikka Black is classified as a Pure Malt as the label states. Pure Malt or Vatted Malt, now both  redundant terms in the world of whisky, is the blending of only single malt whiskies into one product. The more accurate term would now be to call this a Blended Malt.

The packaging is as simple as it gets coming in nothing but a plain brown carton (wafer thin) and a simple oval label of the same colour as the package with black writing. Being a graphic designer I have always appreciated good Japanese design but in this case it makes the product just look cheap. The bottle is very squat with a neck so short it remind me of an old beer stubbie. Notably is the stopper which is pressed cork coated is a clear plastic (be careful when opening it is the stopped just pops off onto the floor more often than you would like).

Nikka Black
Pure Malt (Blended Malt) from both Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries

Alcohol: 43%

Location / Region: Japan

On the nose lots of raisins and dried fruit. Very reminiscent of fruit cake or Christmas cake as some say (my mothers fruit cake always has heaps of whisky in it so I can certainly find the notes appealing). Only a slight alcohol burn which does not over power the fruits. I love nosing this whisky!

To taste is like velvet across the front of the pallet. Very smooth but with some intense caramels before a sharp spicy hit to the back of the throat. The dried fruits remain more in the background but still obvious as some good peat enters the mix. Mouth coating that gets slightly sticky.

The finish is warm in the chest and medium to long. The spicy burn leaves fast enough for the sweetness to linger much longer than expected.

Over the balance is good and enjoyable. No harsh undertones that might normally crop up in a cheaper whisky. Some may actually find the lingering sweetness a bit of a turn off if they are not used to it.

I have found this whisky develops with the more air it gets and a few months open certainly has given the contents some unexpected love. Great value for money so be sure to get some.

Very enjoyable overall and if I was to give a dram then it would be 6 out of 7.

The Baron