Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year - In the competitive world of whisky few bottles can stay top of their class for long, but this blended malt from Japanese whisky brand Nikka was recently named ‘World’s Best Blended Malt’ at the World Whiskies Awards for the second consecutive year.
This award-winning bottle is part of Nikka’s Taketsuru range; named in honour of Nikka founder and father of Japanese whisky, Masataka Taketsuru. He is widely credited with bringing the craft of real single malt whisky to Japan in the 1920’s.
Taketsuru’s family owned a Sake brewery which has been producing since 1733, but it was the unique characteristics of Scotch whisky which captured Masataka’s imagination. In 1918 he enrolled at the University of Glasgow to study chemistry, and used his time in Scotland to learn the art of distilling and blending by taking apprenticeships at Longmorn, James Calder and Hazelburn distilleries.
Armed with the secrets of scotch, Masataka returned to Japan in 1920 with his new Scottish bride Rita. In 1934 he built the first Nikka whisky distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido – a location he believed was closest to resembling the terroir of the Speyside distillery where he studied. There are now two distilleries and multiple Nikka plants; the whisky they produce has won multiple awards and helped elevate Japan’s reputation as one of the finest whisky producing nations in the world behind Scotland.
Nikka certainly has a rich history and there is little doubt that the spirit being produced lives up to the high standard set by their ambitious founder. We sat down to uncover what makes this particular double award winning blend so special. Here’s our verdict:
Nose: The nose is dominated by rich oak and leather, with a touch of dried fruits and spices preceding the emergence of an understated smokiness.
Palate: Meaty with a strong kick of spice and oak. The complexity of the spirit becomes clear, with the maltiness evolving; its strength has drawn some comparisons to the peat monsters of Islay.
Finish: The complexity of the maltiness continues to emerge on a sharp finish, but is balanced with surprisingly sweet notes of vanilla.
Overall, this is a beautifully complex but at the same time highly accessible malt that displays a great depth of flavour, appealing to the more educated palate, without alienating those new to the blended malt arena.