Nikka have long been forerunners in the Japanese Whisky market, and with malts like the Miyagikyo 12 Year Old, it’s easy to see why.
The founder of Nikka, Masataka Taketsuru, choose the mountainous region of Sendai to base his second distillery, Miyagikyo.
It was built in 1969, and Taketsuru choose the region because of how different it was to the seaside environment of his first distillery, Yoichi.
The Whisky making process at Miyagikyo is different to Yoichi in that they use less peated malt and heat the stills indirectly. The malt tends to be fruitier and lighter.
It has eight pot stills and two coffey stills that are all heated by steam.
The Miyagikyo 12 Year Old has been matured in sherry casks and packed with soft, fruity flavours and a wonderful oaky sweetness.
It is a rare malt with limited availability, so if you find one, it’s worth snapping up.
The nose opens with notes of rich coffee and sweet nuts. The darker flavours don’t overwhelm, but are light and gentle.
It characterises a brilliant Japanese malt, capturing the harmony between the bitter coffee and the sweet oak notes that follow.
Vanilla rises to the fore and takes charge, with orchard flavours of oak and dew covered grass coming in behind it.
The palate beings in more floral flavours, with cherry blossom and crisp apples appearing.
These go perfectly with the earthier notes of the nose. They are fresh and bright, with a lovely mellow character.
The vanilla becomes more like caramel, which lends a lovely smooth mouth feel. There is a delicate sherried spice that goes well with these sweeter notes as well.
Dried raisins and apricots also come out, giving it a bit of depth and richness.
The finish is long and warming, with more sherry and a hint of dried fruits.
This is a brilliant dram with lots of complexity and character, not to be missed.
This article is part of a content partnership with Dekanta.com whereby they provided the bottle in return for a review, but, as always, my views and thoughts are my own only and not influenced by the partnership.