Distillery/Brand: Nikka | Region: Japan | ABV: 45% | Color: Copper
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89
Coffey stills also known as Continuous or Column stills were invented by French born Irishman Aeneas Coffey and are mainly used to distill grain whisky. Whisky made from malted barley is distilled in pot stills.
I could go into the rather lengthy explanation on the difference between the two but I won’t. Let’s just say that copper pot stills require two separate distillations to produce new make and must be done in batches.
Coffey stills on the other hand employ a rather unique method where the wash and the resulting alcohol vapors are run continuously through the two columns (hence, Continuous stills) to create an extremely high strength liquid (as high as 95%).
Nikka decided that it would be a good idea to run 100% malted barley through Coffey stills just to see what happens. This process is unheard of in Scotland making Japan the only place in the world where this kind of spirit is produced. There is also a Coffey Grain Whisky from Nikka to go along with this.
This is actually a rather new addition to the Nikka lineup having only been launched in January 2014.
My particular sample is a NAS bottling at 45%. There is precious little information on it’s maturation or it’s age. But if I was to hazard a guess I would peg it any where between 6-8 years in bourbon casks.
Nose: Bourbon like. Chocolate. Leather. Honey. Maple syrup. Marzipan. Ripe bananas. Stewed apples. Raisins. Figs. Fruit cake. Almonds. Cinnamon. A very sweet nose almost dripping with thick brown sugar and molasses.
Palate: Apples. Black pepper. Fruit cake. Tobacco leaf. Creme caramel. Toffee. Madeira cake. Cinnamon. Coffee beans. Very smooth delivery but which feels a touch under-powered. I would have liked a little zing but it stays soft.
Finish: Long. Oily. Tobacco lead. Cinnamon dust. Mild chocolate.
I think by running 100% malted barley in Coffey stills Nikka have come up with quite a unique flavor profile. The strong tobacco leaf and apple combination is quite nice. I’ll be trying the Nikka Coffey Grain (made from corn) next for a little head-to-head comparison.
Till then I’m quite happy to nurse this one for a while.