Japan’s Nikka Whisky distillery goes again to its Irish roots


The story of Japanese whisky begins 100 years in the past, in the obvious of locations, Scotland. But to inform the story of Japanese whisky can be to inform the story of one of many nation’s oldest distillers, Nikka Whisky.

You’ve seemingly heard the identify earlier than. Only final yr Nikka scored the award for Best Japanese Blended Malt for its Taketsuru Pure Malt 21 Years Old whisky on the World Whiskies Awards.

In the identical yr, Chief Blender, Tadashi Sakuma, earned Nikka a trophy for the corporate’s Coffey Malt Whisky, on the International Spirits Challenge, in London.

For Nikka, the Australian launch of a brand new Coffey nonetheless vary of spirits is a glance again to the long run.

Distilling a dream

In 1918, Masataka Taketsuru – the 22-year-old son of a sake-brewing father and future founding father of Nikka Whisky – travelled from Japan to Scotland to review natural chemistry on the University of Glasgow. Shortly after arriving, Taketsuru-san realized the artwork of Scotch whisky via apprenticeships within the highlands and lowlands of Scotland, assembly his future spouse, Rita, alongside the best way.

Although it will take some years to grasp his dream, Taketsuru-san knew then that Scottish-style whisky manufacturing was the way forward for Japanese whisky.

Creating the Nikka Whisky firm in 1934, in Hokkaido, Taketsuru-san started making whisky at a time when spirit consumption in Japan was dominated by sake and shōchū: the previous constructed from fermenting and brewing rice; the latter constructed from distilling rice and different grains.

Now, nearly 85 years after the corporate was born, Nikka has turned to a singular technique of distillation to provide its latest and most highly-regarded whiskies; the Coffey nonetheless.

It’s Coffey, not espresso

Designed by Irishman, Aeneas Coffey, in 1830, the Coffey nonetheless is totally different to the frequent copper pot stills discovered in lots of distilleries world wide; the important thing variation being the nonetheless operates with larger effectivity and produces a lighter spirit that’s nonetheless excessive in alcohol by quantity.

The Coffey nonetheless additionally presents quite a few different benefits. “The reason why we’re using a Coffey still is to create different flavours that eventually we will be blending with – you want good ingredients to start with,” mentioned Naoki Tomoyoshi, Nikka worldwide gross sales chief.

“When most brands in the market were going from age-statement single malts to non-age-statement single malts, we’ve carved out a position in the market by saying, ‘OK, we’re very focussed on creating new flavours, but these are not random ideas – it comes from our tradition.’ Coffey Grain Whisky is one of the first grain whiskies to be bottled on its own.”

The new hero

Distilled from a mash composed principally of corn, Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky shortly earned itself hero standing. The spirit has been out there in different elements of the world since 2012, however has solely come to Australia shores in the present day.

Aged in remade and re-charred American oak casks, drinkers can count on a barely floral nostril with hints of vanilla, adopted by candy, syrupy flavours of melon and grapefruit on the palate. It’s delightfully mild and vibrant. The candy corn end of this whisky can be prone to fulfill bourbon lovers.

You can get pleasure from this whisky straight, or on ice, though Tomoyoshi-san has extra avant-garde methods of having fun with it. “I put a shot of Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky in the freezer, then pour it over vanilla ice cream to enjoy after dinner.”

Show your aptitude

The distinctive character of Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky has additionally been fashionable with cocktail bartenders.

“The cocktail world today has meant there are new ways for whisky to be consumed,” mentioned Tomoyoshi-san. “This means you take the same spirit that you would normally drink and highlight different aspects and uniqueness of that in the cocktail process. When we see Nikka whisky used in a very creative way, we’re very happy.”

If you are new to the world of whisky and never courageous sufficient to dive straight right into a glass of straight spirit, attempt beginning with a whisky cocktail.

An superb begin is to make a ‘Sonic’: fill a highball glass with ice, add 45 millilitres of Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky and prime with equal elements soda and tonic waters.

From there, you’ll be able to attempt experimenting with a Japanese-style Old Fashioned – use honey syrup, not sugar – after which turn out to be as adventurous as you want. Just keep in mind to comply with Tomoyoshi-san’s easy recommendation: “Explore, and keep exploring.”


Mark Gambino from executivestyle.com.au

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