Nikka All Malt Japanese whisky is reviewed by Steve Crotty.
Nikka All Malt
Japanese Blended Malt Whisky
Miyagikyo and Yoichi Distilleries
Approximate price £23 – 27
This whisky would be banned if it were made in Scotland. The reasons for this are myriad and largely uninteresting, but essentially it relates to the use of a continuous still in its production. So it falls to the Japanese to lead the way in innovation (along with pretty much everyone but the SWA-hamstrung Scots) and present us with Nikka All Malt. And yes you did read that correctly, this is the product of two distilleries, both owned by the Yoichi Company, who lend their own unique input and insight.
The first point of interest is that the bottle fits so snugly in your hand that rational thought dictates it was meant to be there. It becomes very difficult to put down, as the temptation to use it as a weapon becomes all-consuming. Curb these desires for now, at least until the alcohol is finished. (A final note on the bottle, it becomes an excellent preserve jar once the whisky is dispensed with.)
The aroma is inoffensive, but hardly enchanting. There’s a mild hint of Special K on first smell, which confused me as it was nine in evening (not the afternoon) at the time, and I generally leave my consumption of cereals to the morning, or never as I don’t really eat breakfast. So I dutifully sniffed again and gained very little by doing so. Don’t let this put you off though; this is a whisky that is big on subtlety.
It immediately coats the mouth on first impact, but craftily so. I swilled it around for a good ten seconds, getting hints of crisp malt and eloquent vanilla extract, but that’s all they were; hints. It wasn’t until I was about to swallow that I got the first real kick of malt, but again it is a gentle kick rather than a rage-fuelled punt to the face. The finish is surprisingly long given the delicacy on show, and flourished with a hint of raspberry and peach that I hadn’t expected.
You know how I said this drink was crafty? Its cunning lies in its drinkability. So mellow and wholesome it is that you forget you’re drinking a 40% spirit. It lures you into a state of tranquillity where nothing in the immediate or greater world outside the room you’re in exists, let alone matters. I was so transfixed on this serene whisky that I forgot to stop drinking it. After two hours half a bottle was gone and I could no longer apply the coherence I would like to the notes I was making for this review. Or to my ability to walk for that matter (I fell up the stairs, a ridiculous but life-affirming action).
Nikka All Malt is everything you want from a sedative. As a whisky it works pretty well too, the flavours are clear, well balanced and effortless. I just wish it had a bit more of a nose to it, however once you’ve sampled it this will cease to be important. Lastly don’t mix it, or have it on the same evening as heavier whiskies/spirits. This will dilute its charm to ineffectuality; just appreciate a light whisky for what it is.
Overall Rating 8/10