Google A few Miyagikyo or Miyagikyu or Miyagikyou

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 10, 2017


A few Miyagikyo or Miyagikyu
or Miyagikyou

Already seen all three spellings as far as Nikka’s famous distillery on Honshu is concerned. Once again, they upped their game very recently, since the strength of their entry-level NAS went from 43% to 45%. Let’s try it, and then, see what happens. What could possibly happen?...

Miyagikyo (45%, OB, Japan, +/-2017)

Miyagikyo (45%, OB, Japan, +/-2017) Four stars I have to say I had enjoyed the one at 43% two or three years ago (WF 85). Colour: pale gold. Nose: very grassy, very citric, all that in a good way. Is this Sauvignon Blanc from the eastern part of Loire? Indeed there’s also a lot of chalk and limestone, certainly some fresh mint, and some kind of smoked fresh bread, which goes perfectly well with the rest. I find it rather deep, and not too young. Ish. After five minutes, a little coconut arises, probably from some rather active oak. Also pineapple. Mouth: same feeling of Sauvignon Blanc, with this citric arrival, almost angular, and a long development rather on grass, green pepper, and green malt. Some candle wax or something in the background. Finish: rather long, with green spices. Perhaps green curry? A medicinal touch in the aftertaste. Comments: very race-y. The youth feels a bit on the palate, but they composed this ‘nervous’ Miyagikyo with craft and skill. SGP:361 - 86 points.

Good, I think we’re ready for a little madness…

Miyagikyo ‘Malty & Soft’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Miyagikyo ‘Malty & Soft’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Four stars We just had the Yoichis in this ‘Key Malts’ series, here are the Miyagikyos. Never had the ‘Malty & Soft’ before, neither at 12 or with NAS. Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather in the style of the regular NAS, just even greener and almost acidic. I find it profound, and always love these very sharp, very well chiselled styles. Lemon and clay infused in strong green tea. Or there, old stone teapot. With water: lovely. Barley, clean mud, pomelos juice. Yes you may squeeze pomelos. Mouth (neat): really sharp, starting lemony, with green oranges as well, and then more sweet barley (syrup) and a slightly prickly pepper – which I do not hate at all (?) With water: gets a tad rounder and fruitier (peaches) but also grassier. Same Sauvignony kind of profile. Finish: long and millimetric, which is no oxymoron. A narrow malt that’s excellent. Comments: at times, there are echoes of Clynelish. SGP:461 - 87 points.

Miyagikyo ‘Fruity & Rich’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Miyagikyo ‘Fruity & Rich’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Four stars Well the latter wasn’t very ‘soft’, let’s see if this one’s ‘rich’. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is very fruity, and even Haribo-ish. A pack of sweets and a little green oak, then liquorice wood, Chinese mushrooms, and wulong tea. I’m sorry but I don’t find this ‘rich’. Unless… With water: goes towards lemon balm and ripe peaches. Still no obvious richness. Mouth (neat): the same pack of jelly babies, bears, and crocodiles, orange drops, and green tea sweets. Ever tried that? In fact there is a feeling of macha, which is troubling, isn’t it. With water: excellent. Rather tropical fruits this time, even bananas. Finish: medium, clean, and indeed very fruity. Melons. Comments: perhaps were the real names lost in translation? What’ sure is that this works very well, even if I found the ‘Malty & Soft’ deeper. SGP:641 - 86 points.

Miyagikyo ‘Sherry & Sweet’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Miyagikyo ‘Sherry & Sweet’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Two stars and a half In general, the Japanese sherried whiskies don’t do things by half, but this one’s not very dark, let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: bang, the same massive box of used matches as in the Yoichi in the same series. And there’s a lot of gunpowder too, so I think we could safely use the S word here. Behind this thick wall, some walnuts, mentholated tobacco, and perhaps dried porcinis. With water: mead and gunpowder. I know, sounds like the title of a mid-1960s spaghetti western. Mouth (neat): indeed, it reminds of the Yoichi. Unusual notes of burnt caramel, maraschino, and simply burnt cake. Some bitter notes of, well, bitter walnuts and bitter almonds. Not the easiest Miyagikyo ever. With water: it’s complicated. Finish: long, and it’s still quite complicated. Comments: not a fan of this one. Not for pacifists, there’s too much gunpowder for them. SGP:452 - 77 points.

Miyagikyo ‘2000’s’ (57%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015)

Miyagikyo ‘2000’s’ (57%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015) Four stars One of the last ‘kind of age-stated’ Miyagikyos, only available as 20 or 50cl. This multi-vintage baby contains malts from each and every vintage of the 2000s. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s got some light rum sides at first, but the malty side takes off a few seconds later. A nice blend of mint, lemon juice, grass juice, raw malted barley, custard, and green liquoricy oak. No, liquoricy oak is not a registered variety of oak. With water: nice earthy development, with autumn leaves and fresh tobacco. Mouth: very good! Many fruits, from pineapples and bananas to williams pears and papayas, coated with custard and maple syrup. Quite some tart oak in the background. With water: perfect, this one swims like… wait, let’s check Google… Kosuke Kitajima! Finish: long, very clean, fruity and barley-y, with a signature rather on pineapples and grapefruits. Comments: everything’s been perfectly mastered in the 2000s. Too bad that wasn’t always the case with rock music. SGP:551 - 85 points.

And now a logical continuation…

Miyagikyo ‘1990’s’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015)

Miyagikyo ‘1990’s’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015) Five stars This multi-vintage Miyagikyo is much darker. More sherry? More ‘S’? Colour: amber. Nose: cool, no ‘S’! Rather cigars, prunes, burnt raisins, marmalade, and certainly some good oloroso. Then greases, soy sauce (there), citron liqueur, and mushrooms. This is really special – so far. With water: wonderful! Smells like the exhausts of an early Kawazaki H2. Two-stroke engine, nicknamed the widow maker. Mouth: truly excellent. A massive arrival, heavy and concentrated, with much more smoke this time, liquorice, bitter chocolate, old walnuts, and allspice. Gets then very clove-y, in a great way. A rather spectacular whisky, this. With water: perfect, walnut wine, ink, linseed oil, bitter chocolate. What’s not to like? Finish: long, wonderfully herbal and tertiary. Shall we mention umami or would that be a little too much? Comments: a brilliant, very characterful composition. SGP:462 - 90 points.

Miyagikyo ‘1980’s’ (53%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015)

Miyagikyo ‘1980’s’ (53%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015) Five stars Yes we’re following a train of thoughts. This time they’ve blended all vintages from the 1980s. Ah, Pizzicato Five, ah, Ryuichi Sakamoto! Colour: pale amber. Nose: sweet Vishnu! I mean, sweet Hachiman! This is just perfect. Malt and all kinds of cakes of the creation. Chestnut purée in the front, and touches of sandalwood, incense and rose petals in the back. Superb balsamic touches flying over all that. With water: yess! Old humidor! Mouth (neat): perfect, really. Big malt, oranges, cakes, quinces, honeys, coffee beans… I can’t wait to add drops of water, that may unleash more things! With water: indeed, many honeys, marmalades, fruit juices, tobaccos, and chutneys. No we won’t list them all, but you could do me a favour and call the anti-maltoporn brigade, thank you. The number is 879-5646-63… No, wait, that’s David Beckham’s, apologies. Finish: long, like chewing a cigar. There. Comments: great work, really. I didn’t recognise the 1987, but that may be me. Geee… SGP:462 - 91 points.

Would it be safe to have a last one? A very last one? Like, a single cask?

Miyagikyo 25 yo (59%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, cask #64630, 2014)

Miyagikyo 25 yo (59%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, cask #64630, 2014) Five stars This one will cost you a leg and an arm. Or is it the other way ‘round? Colour: gold. Nose: p.e.r.f.e.c.t. Orange fudge and these lovely small figs they have in Turkey. Plus mint honey. Enough said. With water: beeswax! Do you hear me, beeswax! Is there a better smell in this world? Mouth (neat): amazing, truly amazing. Sweet parmesan cheese, linden tea, mint, liquorice, bitter oranges, honey. That’ll be the expurgated version. With water: another one that’s totally high-definition. A Seiko Quartz of whisky. Just joking, it’s a Patek. Finish: long, herbal, green, a little tannic but this is this rather perfect green and liquoricy tannicity. Comments: rather sublime. We’ll have managed to keep this short and sweet, don’t you agree? SGP:461 - 92 points.

(Many thanks again, Chris in Munich)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Japanese whiskies I've tasted so far






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