Age: No age statement
Masataka Taketsuru was a legend in the whisky world, so naturally any bottle bearing his name comes with some high expectations. Nikka Taketsuru 17 and 21 year old were at the forefront of launching Japanese whisky to international acclaim. Given these high hopes, Taketsuru Pure Malt was perhaps not quite what I’d wished for. Then again, that’s not very fair. Like someone with famous parents struggling to make their own way in the world, Pure Malt should not constantly be compared to its illustrious forebears. So let’s set history aside for a moment and judge this whisky on its own merits. What does Taketsuru Pure Malt have to offer?
Colour: Light amber
Nose: Somewhat tart, like plums or white grapes that are yet to fully ripen. A floral character of spring blossom gives way to a subtle but appreciable dose of spice, with sandalwood and star anise rounding out the nose.
Palate: Light-bodied and prickly, this Nikka manages at once to be outspokenly fruity and quite delicate. Flavours of milk chocolate and mocha are accompanied by sultanas and a dash of white pepper. On the whole, quite sharp and crisp for a Nikka.
Finish: Sharp but of decent length, with plenty of tannins and a distant hint of wood smoke.
Verdict: Sometimes an older generation is more famous for a reason. While I promised to judge the Pure Malt on its own merits, I just can’t help myself. To put it in terms a football fan would understand, this Taketsuru is very much a Jordi Cruyff, definitely not a Johan. It’s missing that brilliance and class of the older version, coming off as a cheap and unsatisfactory imitation.
Is the comparison to the 17 and 21 year old unfair? Absolutely. But does that make Pure Malt a good whisky? No… Even compared to its contemporary peers (think Coffey Malt and All Malt), Taketsuru Pure Malt doesn’t quite hit the mark. Too young and too sharp, this bottling from the Nikka stable is one I won’t be coming back to.
Value for money: 🤩🤩