Nikka Taketsuru 21 y.o. Review

Nikka Taketsuru 21 y.o.070

43% abv

Score:  88/100


Been a little bit since we shared notes on a malt from the little island nation.  Japanese whisky is increasingly becoming de rigueur, with opinion leaning heavily in favour, prices soaring and collectors foaming at the mouth for special releases.

This one is not a single malt, but a pure malt…or is it a vatted malt…no, wait…a blended malt.  Oh, whatever.  Let’s just go with what’s on the label.  ‘Pure malt’ it is.  In reality, this is a vatting of single malts from Japanese distilleries (of which, there are certainly not a plethora), with no grain whiskies weakening the impact or diluting the character.  The distilleries?  Not sure, but…Nikka owns two of the eight or ten operational distilleries in Japan, so let’s assume this is a marriage from their two interests: Yoichi and Miyagikyo.  (Ahhhh…Wikipedia…where would we be without you?)

The name ‘Taketsuru’, if you’re curious, is a tribute to the late Masataka Taketsuru, founder of the Nikka distiller and father of the Japanese whisky industry.  Taketsuru combined his bent for chemistry and love of whisky to blaze the trails for what has become arguably the world’s most burgeoning whisky scene.  After studying the art of distillation (and, of course, all other facets of the whisky making process) with the masters in Scotland, he returned to Japan and firmly cemented his place in world whisky lore.

This 21 year old dram was tasted blind recently in a mixed flight of other whiskies.  And no…I could not tell it was Japanese.  Tasting notes, score and thoughts were recorded before the ‘reveal’.  Here you have it…

Nose:  Big sherried nose.  And a very nice one, I might add.  Touch of coal smoke.  Orange marmalade.  Jammy, fruity sherry notes.  A little bit of tea.  Scones with black currants and jam.  Some decent vanilla notes.  Mild spices, in the vein of cinnamon and such.  Dark, earthy and leathery.  Slightly savoury.

Palate:  A wee bit too gentle on arrival.  Ok…a lot bit too gentle.  Pleasant, but kinda like driving a Ferrari and not taking it past 60mph.  The flavours of old whisky.  Deep fruits and a quick note of florals.  Maybe some tart ripe plum (skin and all) and plum sauce.  Chocolate.  Perhaps a touch of smoke again.  Hoisin-like savoury-ness.

Thoughts:  Tasted blind.  Immediately apparent it was a bit of a sherry bomb.  Not so apparent it was a blended malt (utterly seamless, as to be expected).  I initially guessed it at about 20 years old, but certainly did not peg this as Japanese.  All in all…a very well-made whisky.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

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