Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Night With Nikka - Shirt Bar Scotch Club Tasting Sessions

The evenings sell out line up
We are all familiar with the Shirt Bar these days, especially with their Scotch Club Tasting Sessions held around the middle of each month. If you recall the last session I was to attend was the Talisker evening back in late 2013. This time The Shirt Bar held a Scotch Club Tasting Session with 4 expressions of Japanese whiskies from the Nikka distilleries. Being a massive Japanese whisky fan, as previous declared in my post In And Out, I could not ignore this one either. So as soon as the notification went out I had a ticket purchase din 3min flat. I was sure to tell everyone. Glad I did because by that evening of the same day all tickets had been sold. Not travelling alone this time I was joined for the night by fellow D.T.W.C. club members The Dog and The Proxie, as well as friend and now whisky blogger Osheen from Watch & Whisky. Also sitting out our table was another new to the whisky blogging scene Jonathan from The Whisky Ledger. Good to see new faces.

Those meagre dram pours
After ducking in from the rain, we sat, we talked, we laughed, we hassled The Dog because we could, and we enjoyed a few whisky sours as the event start was running well and truly late. That delay left enough time for The Proxy to make a few quick purchases (expected that to happen) and discover he was not the only timepiece tragic in the room. As per usual in such a relaxed atmosphere the lights dimmed and we reclined to start accepting our drams. On the line up was: Miyagikyo 12yo Single Malt; Yoichi 15yo Single Malt; Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yo Blended Malt; Nikka From The Barrel Blended Malt and Grain. This was in fact a great selection to try as the spread was coming from both the Miyagikyo Distillery on the island of Honshu, and Yoichi Distillery on the island of Hokkaido.Though I have had some of these whiskies in the past it has always been muddled with other world whiskies so it was good to just sit down and do some extra analysis. Following is some brief notes taken on the night but there was nowhere near enough time and sample to do any real analysis.

Miyagikyo 12yo, Single Malt
Distillery: Miyagikyo, Nikka
ABV: 45%
Nose: Cherries, musk, spices, vannila's and citrus
Taste: Very dry and sat high in the palate with a fruity tang. Lots of ripe pears and maybe a bit of smoke.
Finish: Medium and dry.
What I did not know: Steam fired stills to create a mild gentle heat.

Yoichi 15yo, Single Malt
Distillery: Yoichi, Nikka
ABV: 45%
Nose: Pine forests, salts and spice, creamy vanillas
Taste: burnt seaweed, spices, nail varnish and lanolin oil.
Finish: Long and spicy on the tounge
What I did not know: Coal fired stills to create a aggressive heat.

Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yo, Blended Malt
Distillery: Miyagikyo and Yoichi, Nikka
ABV: 40%
Nose: toasted almonds, dired fruit spice.
Taste: Creme brulee and macadamia nuts.
Finish: Instant, gone, nada.
What I did not know:

Nikka From The Barrel, Blended Malt and Grain
Distillery: Miyagikyo and Yoichi, Nikka
ABV: 51.4%
See previous review
What I did not know: A blending of both malts from both Miyagiko and Yoichi + corn grain.

The food of the night. Always delicious and ample.
Finishing off the tasting were neat sushi plates in individual serves distributed before the much anticipated and delicious Shirt Bar sharing platter of cured meats, cheese, breads and olives. My feeling was the sushi would have been best served in-between drams to create the Japanese relationship between food, whisky, and the clean pure flavours expected of both.

Though The Shirt Bar is a classic joint to hold any whisky event with the ambience, sweet tunes, and relaxed seating they still are very reliant on what the level the presenter is at in both public speaking and knowledge. In this case presentation was not fantastic and felt more like something to expect from a Whisky Live event with little interaction between presenter and attendees. The evening was rushed, the drams were so meagre that in 2 sips it was gone (these should have been at least 25ml samples) with many groaning disapprovals were to be heard, and within 40min or less the tasting was well and truly over. All too quick for any real appreciation which is what is was here for. Even so with the night passing all too quickly The Shirt Bar always remain open into the evening to continue on chilling out and sipping a cold brew, another whisky sour or just take in a well made cappuccino.

Those turn coats The Proxy and Osheen form Watch & Whisky talked more about watches and shirts!
For those reading about The Shirt Bar Scotch Club Tasting Sessions for the first time don't be put off by the title that it is a 'club' in the traditional sense. Anyone can go as it is simply a fees based bookings session. Just sign up for the notifications on email to find out what is on offer at the next session. Notifications generally go out about a week or 2 before hand.

Looking forward to what The Shirt Bar's next Scotch Club has on offer.

The Baron.