New Nikka Single Malt Editions

The great Japanese whisky awakening has left the country's most prominent distillers scrambling to find the supply to satisfy today's demand. Nikka's first two single malt offerings in the U.S., a 15 year old Yoichi and a 12 year Miyagikyo, were discontinued last year after the company realized its stocks were not sufficient enough to satiate the public's thirst. Rather than move away from single malts entirely, Nikka went back to the drawing board and crafted two generic single malt offerings, simply called Yoichi and Miyagikyo, allowing for more flexibility seeing there would be no minimum age requirement to struggle against. While skeptics may see the move as a step backward in terms of quality, I can promise you that true Japanese whisky fans will be thrilled by both of these whiskies. They're fantastic in that: 1) they're both delicious, and 2) textbook Japanese in every way. The grace and beauty of these new distillery editions showcases not only Nikka's tremendous blending skills, but also the inherent character of these whiskies. They have an elegance that we just don't see from Scotland. I bought one of each immediately after tasting. My notes are as follows:

Nikka "Yoichi" Japanese Single Malt Whisky $79.99- Nikka's latest release from Yoichi distillery no longer carries an age statement, but it does bring a classically Japanese whisky profile back to the market. All the delicacy, grace, and subtle complexity is alive and well in this release, buried deeply into a whisper of malt for those who take the time to let it be heard. The first sip is almost ghostly, but it's the second and third return that yield the slightest hint of peat smoke, the creamiest of malts, and the lovely roundness of sweet stonefruit. This is textbook Japanese whisky: a flavor reserved so as not to overwhelm potential food pairings like sushi or other delicate offerings, yet a wonderful depth of flavor done with the slightest of hands. Yoichi is located on Japan's Hokkaido island where such food pairings are prevalent. It's definitely a single malt with a sense of place.The gentle smell and flavor of the sea linger long on the finish.

Nikka "Miyagikyo" Japanese Single Malt Whisky $79.99- Nikka's Miyagikyo distillery is back on the market with a fantastic new offering that doesn't disclose the age, but has no problem disclosing serious flavor. The sherry integration of the whisky is utterly marvelous. It's clearly marked by classic notes of fudge, fruitcake, and toffee, but all three profiles are so harmonious and fluid that it's difficult to hold on to them for more than a second. Nikka's whiskies are always delicate and feminine in style, and this malt is no different. The beauty is what stuns you, rather than the power or the concentration. The finish is a wonderful symphony of toasted almonds, cherry, and Oloroso richness. The new Miyagikyo should captivate an entirely new following for Nikka's second distillery.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll