Dram Review: Nikka Single Cask Malt Whisky (Yoichi 余市 Cask No. 400600)

[62.0%・15 Years Old・Distilled in 1992・Bottled in 2007・Official Bottling・Cask No. 400600・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

A stately and proper sense of oak.  The peat combines well with the oak; tobacco leaves, dried porcini and wet sand with a spray of brine.

Palate & Finish:

A deep and sharp stroke of acidic fruits together with a gentler underlying dose of brown sugar syrup and marzipan. The oak tannins are at work amidst the intense sweetness.

A firm and spicy burn that transitions into a much gentler, creamy finish of piccolo and some lingering iodine..

Thoughts:

Stylistically quite like the virgin oak cask bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society a few years ago, but that cask was exceptional.  Still, another solid virgin oak cask by the distillery..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Blackadder Four Years Old Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu (Cask No. 2862)

[63.0%・4 Years Old・Distilled in 2013・Bottled in 2018・Blackadder Bottling・Cask No. 2862・Single Cask Release of 237 Bottles]

Nose:

A thick woodiness grips the attention with plenty of leather. Some saltiness from the oak leaks into the spirit. Robust barley oozing out and in time more of that caramelised char surfaces as well..

Palate & Finish:

Big bold vanilla thickness with a generous dose of strawberries simmered in brown sugar, quite wonderfully kept together by the lovely Christmas spices.

Lovely finish with tannins hugging the syrupy fruits.

Thoughts:

A gentle giant, at 63% this is perhaps one of the politest and pleasing virgin oak casks I have come across.

A Chichibu that broke the ceiling..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Asta Morris Chichibu (Cask No. 1552)

[60.9%・6 Years Old・Distilled in 2011・Bottled in 2018・Asta Morris Bottling・Cask No. 1552・Single Cask Release of  207 Bottles]

Nose:

Quite citrus on the nose, more so than how I remember the first batch fared. Spirit and a hint of copper move in as in time the dram boosts a buttery note; some fruits also appear but on the shy side.

Palate & Finish:

Green fruits with a spike of citrus followed by an underlying custard note of coconut, pandan and nuts rising through during the mid-palate. Toasted malt becoming increasingly evident.

An even follow through of nuts and creaminess with some lime twists also in the mix.

Thoughts:

Oh wow, the first edition was a revelation but what an interesting, almost experimental profile for Asta Morris’ sophomore Chichibu release, such a subtropical number!

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Karuizawa Aged 10 Years

[43.0%・10 Years Old・Ocean Whisky Bottling]

Nose:

A whiff of packed raisin fructose arrives initially on the nose, surrounded with nips of pears, figs and wood chips. There is an understated layer of malt and vanilla cream, just enough in dosage that it adds to the depth but not so much that the tone gets weighted down. It’s rather dreamy really, a free spirited thing making men’s knees weak.

Palate & Finish:

On the palate, the malty nature speaks first, accompanied by the wee acidic nature of raisins as well as the fragrant sweetness. A touch of earthiness to go with the gentle drop. The saucy chocolate note then sips out in the mid-palate, gliding through the sherry creaminess seasoned with coconut sugar.

There is just enough of an earthy element coming through in the finish for the vivid dream to be grounded after all. A touch of peat toasted oak with a drying brush of raisins.

Thoughts:

This may be a Karuizawa, but it was not produced with the intention of being yet another famed unicorn from the distillery. It’s something that’s meant to be casually enjoyed, and boy oh boy, isn’t this excellent for what it really is…

It’s a teenage dream.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Miyagikyo 12 Years Old Malty & Soft

[55.0%・12 Years Old・Bottled Circa. 2012-2015・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

One of the key note expressions from the distillery in Sendai in the rather limited Nikka series, it has been procured by the wonderful Tokyo Bird for the lucky crowd here in Sydney.

Nose:

A lovingly rich dose of malted buttery shortbreads on the nose. Soft fruity note of apricot nectar with delicate sugary smoke. A wee hint of glue and wood chips, reminiscent of a childhood wood craft class from years ago.

Palate & Finish:

A luscious body of a palate, tropical fruit nectar and vanilla cream with a hit of wood spices. The maltiness surfaces with the spices slowly but surely reaching crescendo.

The spices prolong in the finish but eventually fizzle out, making way for the soft caramel notes.

– Nicholas

Dram Review: Hakushu Heavily Peated Bottled in 2012

[48.0%・Bottled in 2012・Original Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

A delicate sweet smoke on the nose, cucumbers and forest pines. It doesn’t feel like it’s heavily peated, the peat is clean. The freshness of green fruits is truly lovely with just a hint of vanilla and a brush of honey. The woody peat and green papaya notes come out after a while with just a sprinkle of peppery spices. This beauty is rather shy, taking her time to lure you in. Then on the very back end, fragrant sweet pasture, salted caramel and a lime zing. It should really be bottled into a perfume.

Palate & Finish:

A refreshing sweetness of cucumbers, green apples and limes hits the palate first, then the salted caramel fudge comes on to add to the chewiness. The peat then develops subtly to add more substance to this sophisticated gem.

The finishing is as tender as a warm spring night, with the fresh peat and the oak married together in harmony. The light spices behave youthfully and playfully and it’s just plain wonderful.

Thoughts:

A.K.A. “Tender is the Oriental Night”..

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Yoichi 12 Years Old

[45.0%・12 Years Old・Bottled Circa. 2010-2013・Official Bottling・General Release]

This particular expression doesn’t surface on our shores that often, and I really dig it. Will be sad to see it go.

Nose:

Very fruity on the nose. Blackcurrants, blueberries and that sugary goodness in ripe Japanese strawberries. The oak comes out with underlying notes of smokiness and earthiness. Traces of peat with a pinch of rock salt.

Palate & Finish:

A chewy body of juicy red apples, caramel and vanilla setting a well balanced tone.

A puff of smoke and a hint of peat set the stage for the finale. Ripe apple nectar, it leaves some subtle ashiness between your teeth.

Thoughts:

A fascinating Yoichi with that unexpectedly chic oomph of peat and smoke.

A.K.A. “Peat’s outing to a berry farm”

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Hibiki 30 Years Old Bottle No. 39894

[43.0・30 Years Old・Hibiki Bottling・Limited Release]

 

Nose:

Syrup glazed walnuts and poached peach on the nose, the smoke is ancient and regal. Also present are soft black pepper and tender plum like fragrance.
 Let it breathe and the rich toffee comes out along with delicate wood and some corn oil with just a couple drops of balsamic vinegar. 
Rest for a while longer and the nose changes yet again, this time with a pinch of salt and dried rose petals.

Palate & Finish:

Light umeshu on the palate with subtle acidity and delicate spices.
Thicker sweeter raisins then appear along with caramel and toffee on the back palate. A hint of tropical pineapple notes there as well.

Sichimi and Japanese pickled ginger in the finish with mizunara wood and syrupy plums coming through. Lengthy floral notes.

Thoughts:

Sheer poetry.

A.K.A. “Mr. Fukuyo’s Masterpiece”

I was lucky enough to have the last nip of the bottle.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas