Feb 242015

Yesterday I reviewed the Miygikyo 12 and found it just a little too put together. How does the 15 year old fare?

Photo Credit: whiskymag.jp
Photo Credit: whiskymag.jp

Yesterday’s blind tasting whisky was the Tobermory 10, which I had recently reviewed, so I’m sticking with notes from the London Whisky Show that I didn’t get to yet.

Photo Credit: masterquill.wordpress.com

Photo Credit: masterquill.wordpress.com

Miyagikyo 15 Year Old (45% ABV)

Appearance: Light Bronze and sluggish, thin legs.

Nose: Dusty tangerine, sherry notes with some dried fruit. There’s a very faint balsamic note present in the background, getting stronger as it breathes. Cookie dough and malt are present under the sherry.

Palate: Sherry and light smoke, orange or tangerine sweetness with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Linger: Sweet citrus notes on the tongue, spice in the back of the throat leaving the mouth dry with a hint of smoke (not peat, more wood smoke).


The 15 year old does not suffer from the “perfection” flaw the 12 has. This whisky is complex, far looser and less tight than the 12 year old and has the undertones and imperfect balsamic, an indistinction between orange and tangerine and some of the cask got in there too.

Despite being a great dram, at the nearly £100 you’d have to leave in the store for this expression, you can do better.

Feb 232015

Israel’s whisky community is now in the midst of the first organized blind tasting organized by Tapuz Wine and Alcohol Forum’s Admin and resident whisky buff Assaf Harel in conjunction with Sitonaut Binyamina, who organizes next month’s Whisky Live Tel Aviv. We got 14 blind samples, and have one revealed each night at 11pm. The first whisky was the Tomatin 14 (which I reviewed here last May), So obviously…..I got it….WRONG!!!  Yes, despite having tasted and reviewed this particular expression, I failed miserably…

The other bloggers in the competition didn’t fare much better, and these competitions serve to teach humility in a fun way.

Since I already reviewed this expression, I’ll be harking back to some whiskys I tasted at the Whisky Show in London and didn’t get to review, starting with the Miyagikyo 12.

Photo Credit: sentabi.jp

Photo Credit: sentabi.jp

The first Miyagikyo I reviewed was a stunning sample of a single cask I got from my friend Torben. You can read this review here. The distillery was built in 1969 in a pristine remote location by Masataka Taketsuru, who pretty much invented Japanese whisky, and who’s story will be the basis of a Japanese television series – sure to interest whisky fans the world over. This is a distillery in which precision is the name of the game and the entire distillation operation is controlled by computers.

Photo Credit: cote20.com

Photo Credit: cote20.com

Nikka Miyagikyo 12 (45% ABV)

Appearance: Light bronze, slow and thin legs.

Nose: Sliced pears, bouquet of flowers, touches of smoke and a somewhat dusty quality. Also detectable is cake batter and notes of sherry, which works very well with the smoke.

Palate: Spicy white pepper and cardamom, orange peel and honey that was melted in hot water.

Linger: Light spices on the tongue, some spice in the back that fades and some dryness.


This is a very precise whisky. It’s very “put together”, somewhat tight. Very good, although somewhat uninspiring.

The problem, of course, is the price. While you can get the Yamazaki 12 for under £60 (which is still high for a 12 year old), whereas the Miyagikyo will set you back £82, I can’t say I’m sure why it should cost more than 33% more.

Dec 222014

Yamazaki is Japan’s oldest distillery, but Nikka’s Yoichi is the most “Scottish” distillery in Japan. It’s located near the sea on the west coast of the northern island of Hokkaido, in conditions that are close to those of the western coastal Highlands (think Oban or Adelphi’s new Ardnamurchan) or even Islay, and still use direct coal fire to heat the stills. The location was chosen by Masataka Taketsuru, of Yamazaki fame, after leaving Suntory to start Nikka in 1934.

By 1940, World War II in the east was in full blow, and Nikka (then named Dainipponkaju, which would never work on exports) was sitting pretty with defense contracts to supply whisky to the Imperial Navy, where officers had to have their whisky and Scotch wasn’t an option because of the war.

Photo Credit: wikimedia.org

Yoichi has a core range of 5 single malts (NAS, 10, 12, 15 and 20 year old), with the bulk of the production going into Nikka’s Taketsuru vatted malts, the Nikka Pure Malt Black and the blends Nikka makes.

Yoichi is known for its coastal, even medicinal, qualities. The whisky is full bodied, even oily, with varying degrees of peatiness and smokiness, and the 10 showcases that character nicely.

Photo Credit: whisky.fr

Photo Credit: whisky.fr

Yoichi 10 (45% ABV)

Appearance: Gold, slow legs dripping from a long lasting ring.

Nose: First comes the peat. More highland than maritime, though. Under the peat is a layer of sherry sweetness. There’s also an oily-vegetal note which opens to floral notes and bread dough.

Palate: Peat, honey, peppery spice and zesty orange peel.

Linger: The spice lingers in the whole mouth, with light sweetness and smoke resolving into some metallic notes in a long lasting finish.


This is good stuff, not that we’d expect anything less from the Japanese whisky industry.

Again, price is a concern, as it is with all Japanese whisky, with Yoichi being in even more of a bind because it didn’t foresee the current boom, and didn’t lay down enough stock to age. Expect shortages, and price hikes on this front too.

The Yoichi 10 was tasted as part of the December meeting of the Malt Mongers Israel Whisky Club




Oct 232014

No introductions to Japanese whisky are really needed. Both Santory and Nikka produce world class whiskies, Karuizawa is a real frenzy whisky and the popularity of Japanese whisky is soaring.

Photo Credit: Dram JP on Pintrest

Photo Credit: Dram JP on Pintrest

Nikka’s main and most widely known distillery is Yoichi, but wanting input from a different style of distillery, Nikka founded Miyagikyu to produce a mild, Lowlands style whisky in 1969.

The distillery has three core expressions: 10, 12 and 15 year old (I tasted the 15 at The Whisky Show), and Nikka releases single barrels, and thanks to my friend Torben, I got to enjoy this beautiful expression, and it was the runaway winner in a premium whisky tasting I did with fellow blogger Yoav Gelbfish which included some highly sought after drams like the Brora 20 Rare Malts Selection, a Port Ellen 27, Highland Park 30 and the Old Pulteney 35.

Nikka Single Cask Single Cask Warehouse #20 – Miyagikyu 18 years, Sherry Cask, Distilled 6/4/1989, Bottled 9/7/2007 Cask 105419, La Maison du Whisky bottling (60% ABV, NCF, NC)

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Appearance: Copper, very slow forming legs.

Nose: Dark sultanas, dusty spices, sour berries, kaiserschmarrn dripping with the diced fruit compte, cinnamon, clove and fresh nutmeg, chocolate and espresso, plum and the lightest balsamic whiff

Palate: Starts out sherry sweet (though not as sweet as the nose suggests), and continues to spicy sweet leaving a beautiful dry tarty sweetness with notes of espresso and bittersweet chocolate.

Linger: Sweet, light spices that linger for a long time with a dryness in the mouth.


WOW!! This is one beautiful sherry bomb. It has a perfect nose for a sherry cask and is really a great dram.

Thank you Torben for this wonderful dram!