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Drink Review: Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky

Previously only released as part of single casks, Nikka decided to add their Coffey Malt to their core range in 2014. Distilled in a Coffey still normally used for grain whisky production, the malt is delightfully fruity and spicy.

Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky Review:

Nose: A heady burst of tropical fruit and orange pith. Bags of spice, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, cumin and the sweet, sticky fruitiness of marmalade.

 

Palate: Fruity and soft! Dry, apple skin with a wonderful spicy citrus bite! Orange pith, blood orange, yellow peach and vanilla. The complexities really come alive in the mouth, with nuts, spicy sweetness and fruit all combining. Wonderfully balanced.

 

Finish: Long, mouth coating and spicy with delicious fruit in the background.

 

The Nikka Coffey is currently only available as a single malt in their core range. At 43% its comfortable to try neat, either as a comparison between the distillate styles or as an introduction to single cask whisky in general.

 

The Coffey style is not commonly used in the whisky world, for somewhat valid reasons. The Coffey Malt from Nikka is beautifully crafted and perfect for the price. The fruitiness works really well with the spicy notes and is some of the best fruit and spice I’ve tasted in a single malt. Apple, peach and orange are all there in abundance, giving this malt a truly delightful flavour.

Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky Review:

Next up is a brand new expression from Nikka, launched in July 2015;

 

Nikka From the Barrel.

 

This single malt is worked just like the Coffey single cask releases, with the whisky aged in a bourbon barrel and then finished in a Suntory Mizunara barrel. Sweet and fruity, with a lovely toffee edge to the fruit.

 

Nikka From the Barrel Review:

Nose: Beautiful honeyed pears intermingled with citrus. Mango, grapefruit, blood orange and orange pith. A bit of nutmeg and cinnamon as well, indicative of the Mizunara influence.

 

Palate: There’s a velvety fruitiness on the palate, pears and peaches. Lovely soft fruits when combined with the cinnamon spice.

 

Finish: Lingering, fruity and spicy with some winter fruits present.

 

The Nikka From the Barrel is first released as a Limited Edition, with only 12,000 bottles releasing around the world (5,000 in the Far East; 3,000 in Europe; 2,500 in the US). The Limited Edition is available for a very respectable 7,140JPY on Auction or Yobidashi (the cheapest version), making this a truly excellent value dram.

 

The Nikka From the Barrel is incredibly light, with a strong cinnamon profile. Both cinnamon and fruit combine wonderfully on the palate. This is very well crafted and terrific value.

 

As mentioned above, the Coffey Malt is the product of a Coffey still being used for grain whisky production, so generally we’d expect that the Coffey Grain would be very similar. So its great to see that in addition to the delicious Coffey Malt being released, Nikka have given the grain whisky a good airing as well.

 

This release is both delightful and different, being a blend of wheat spirit and malted barley. The Nikka Coffey Aging Test series included some wheat grain expressions, with some excellent results. They have carried this style over to the standard release, which is finished in American oak.

 

The nose is soft, but still full of flavour. Apples, nectarines, pears and some dry fruit notes. For a grain whisky, its complex!

 

It has a soft, velvety feel in the mouth with nectarines, apples and a faint hint of pear. It’s a little sweet and fruity, with a beautiful touch of vanilla.

 

Grain whisky is usually very subtle indeed, but this Nikka Coffey Grain is an explosion of fruity, sweet flavours. The vanilla from the oak does just enough to provide a sweet, soft finish.

Written by Mark Adams

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