Nikka From the Barrel is a Japanese blended whisky (grain whisky, and malts from Nikka’s Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries). As a rule, I don’t enjoy blends, but this expression was a pleasant surprise. The ABV is high (51.4%) and I added water more liberally than I usually would, but the dram is quite drinkable straight ‘from the bottle.’
Appearance: Deep Amber. Viscous, lazy legs.
Nose: raisins, caramel, sherry, citrus, and vanilla. After adding water: cinnamon, floral essences, and hints of smoke.
Palate: thick, viscous mouthfeel. Caramel/brown sugar sweetness, spices, vanilla, and a subtle peatiness.
Finish: Long, pleasant: fruity-oak, vanilla, and lingering warmth (kick in the pants) from the grain whisky.
Final notes: The whisky comes in an unusual, 500 ml square bottle: I like the distinctive packaging, but the first dram was slightly difficult to pour without spillage (I rested the base of the spout on the lip of my Glencairn glass while pouring: a small drop of precious fluid escaped down the outside of the glass, which I was able to capture with a finger and enjoy). There was a strong alcohol aroma when first poured, so I let the dram sit for five minutes to open up before nosing. The grain whisky component was well married to the malts and provided an interesting kick to the blend. I really enjoyed this dram; well suited for sipping on a winter’s night.