Japanese whisky is huge at the moment and has been for a while now, In 2001 when Nikka’s 10 year old Yoichi single malt won ‘Best of the Best’ at the Whisky Magazine’s Awards, heads were turned, attentions were demanded, and respect was given, since this moment Japanese whisky has never looked back.
Discovering the history behind two of the biggest brands Nikka and Suntory was fascinating, both companies were started by two absolute mavericks, both paving the way by doing it their way and ignoring everybody else! I’ll touch lightly on two of the whiskies featured in the brochure...
Short, squat and honest, no I’m not describing Danny DeVito. Nikka’s Nikka Straight From The Barrel packaging is in stark contrast to that of the Hibbiki range, it is all of the above and would look at home in a Victorian apocrathy; it lets the whisky do all of the talking or in this case shouting. On the nose resides fresh fruit with just a twist of spice. The palate fires a real punch with plenty of spice and toffee. A long, soothing finish that is warm with an oaken spice.
The first impression I had of Suntory was Hibiki Harmony, it has beautiful packaging, a bottle with 24 sides representing the 24 seasons in the old Japanese calendar. A refined, stunning look whilst having the impression of a solid but moving quality, which has direct comparisons to that of the liquid inside. The Hibiki Harmony, which is the perfect introduction to the range is blended with malt and grain whiskies and is a delight to taste. Amber in colour with a light floral nose, a sweetness of honey and candied orange peel with a hint of Mizunara Oak in the long smooth finish. In true Japanese style it is gurt lush!