Age: 12 years old
Let’s face it, Japanese whisky with an age statement is a rare sight these days. And while Nikka has bottled many excellent NAS bottlings over the past decade, it’s great to see this 12 year old stalwart still forms part of the range. With Nikka axing the entire Yoichi, Miyagikyo and Taketsuru line-ups and replacing them with NAS expressions, The Nikka 12 year old now remains the company’s sole bottling with an age statement. I expect the fact that this is a blend rather than a single malt may have helped Nikka to keep it on the shelves, but it’s also a testament to the quality of this whisky. Nikka has a fine reputation when it comes to blending, and this 12 year old fits right in. This bottling comes in some very stylish packaging (although the velvet is a bit too much for my taste), with the design meant to mimic the neckline of a kimono.
Colour: Deep gold
Nose: Sweet and very aromatic, as the fragrance of candied orange peel and cooking pears drifts from the glass. Then a nuttier, creamier profile takes hold, offering crème caramel and praline. Delicate hints of aniseed and ginger lend this Nikka a spicy, herbal flourish. This is really promising!
Palate: Not as exuberantly flavourful as the nose would suggest, but still plenty rich in a mellow, elegant sort of way. Flavours of stewed apples are given a spicy bite by the introduction of peppercorn and cinnamon. This gives way to milk chocolate and the faintest trace of wood smoke.
Finish: Reasonably long, yet somehow quite restrained, even distinguished. The aftertaste is very pleasant, offering toasted oak and a lingering burst of wood spice.
Verdict: As gentle as Japanese whiskies come, The Nikka 12 year old is a beautifully engineered blend with a smooth, luxurious character. But while this Nikka is utterly enjoyable, it lacks a bit of excitement. For my liking, the 12 year old could have done with an extra drop of Yoichi. Even so, this is an excellent whisky that’s just so very moreish. Shame then this bottling doesn’t come cheap (at least outside of Japan). Can’t wait for Nikka to replenish some more of their aged stocks!
Value for money: 🤩🤩