Google Nikka's Yoichi to the max

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

August 9, 2017


Nikka’s Yoichi to the max

So, Japan again, from the old guard this time. I haven’t seen a proper age statement on a new Yoichi for a while, which in my book, does downgrade the distillery a bit. But today we’ve got some of the last AS bottles mind you, and some recent NAS as well, those have become inevitable. Let’s see if the flag is still flying rather high…

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

Yoichi (45%, OB, Japan, +/-2017) Four stars The current NAS that goes for, ach, more or less the same price as the 10 or even the 12, naturally. £75 for an NAS, come on! It better be excellent… Now it cannot be worse than the earlier NAS at 43%, because that one was really weak in my opinion (WF 77)… Colour: straw. Nose: barley and custard, with apple pie and then a growing vegetal smokiness. Then some mentholated earth, a marker that I always enjoyed. Rather pleased so far. Mouth: frankly, this is really good. Good smoke on wood and cider apples, plus a touch of lemon, and a dollop of seawater. It’s not that it’s very complex, but the composition works rather well, in its slightly minimalist way. A hint of pineapple in the background adds joy to the combo. Finish: medium but bright and very well balanced. Nice smoky fruitiness. Comments: we’ve known Caol Ilas… Seriously, this is a very good surprise, and smokier than I had expected. A return to form? I’m really very happy. SGP:453 – 86 points.

Now let’s try the funny ‘Key Malts’ they have at the Distillery. Same prices as those of the 12yo Key Malts when they were having those. Apparently, that would be 6,800 Yen a bottle.

Yoichi ‘Woody & Vanillic’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Yoichi ‘Woody & Vanillic’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Three stars and a half Only WF 78 back in 2009, but that was the earlier 12 yo. Right, and that was 2009. Colour: deep gold. Nose: varnish, cellulose, vanilla, nail polish, sawdust… Quick, water! Although it seems that there’s some quince, always a hit at WF Towers. With water: good fruit syrup, vanilla, and cake crumbles. Some kind of breakfasty recipe, perhaps (we don’t do bacon in France!) Mouth (neat): my, this is barley syrup! But I quite enjoy this feisty mix, with coconut sweets, custard, candyfloss, and of course a lot of vanilla. Marzipan and macaroons, plus pineapples. Some similarities with the regular NAS. With water: a little simple, but more than good. Vanilla and oranges this time, with a mentholy background. Finish: medium, rounded, rather on maple syrup. Comments: excellent albeit a little ‘elementary’. But I guess that was the whole point in the first place. Very little peat this time, if any. SGP:541 - 84 points.

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

Yoichi ‘Sherry & Sweet’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Three starsWell, sherry shouldn’t be sweet, but I’m digressing… Liked the older 12 quite a lot back in ’09 (WF 84). Colour: deep gold. Nose: praline, rubber, and indeed, a little sulphur. Walnuts and used matches hold together in an old leather pouch, or something like that. Frankly, I didn’t expect this much sulphur in a Yoichi. With water: struck matches and gunpowder all over the place. Mouth (neat): ah, no, this works very well. Burnt orange cake, cooked honey sauce, candied angelica, cherry liqueur, a drop of yellow chartreuse… It’s quite different from your usual sherried malt, perhaps more candied? Nice feeling. No sulphur that I can detect on the palate. With water: very good. Burnt raisins on a burnt kougelhopf. Yes, a Proust’s madeleine. Finish: quite long, beautifully raisiny, with orange zests and just a touch of clove. Comments: yeah go score this. If you hate sulphur in the nose, say 70. If you don’t care, that’ll rather be, say 86 or even 87. Good, say 80 altogether. Oh those scores! SGP:552 - 80 points.

Yoichi ‘Peaty & Salty’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Yoichi ‘Peaty & Salty’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Three stars and a half Liked the older 12 a lot. Colour: gold. Nose: bizarrely, it’s rather the shiest among them three. A rather round peat, say young Caol Ila ex-rejuvenated barrel or something. I know, a shortcut. Whiffs of iodine, cough medicine, almonds, oysters… With water: no, rather a soft Talisker. Mouth (neat): sweet peat! Lou Reed could have written a song about it. Oranges and grapefruits, as sweets and as fresh juices, plus brine and green pepper, as well as a large teapot of lapsang souchong. With water: same. It’s one of the easiest peaters I’ve tried this year (we’re in 2017, am I not right?) Finish: medium, easy, uncomplicated, perhaps a wee tad cardboardy? There is some salt(iness) but not much. Comments: perhaps does it mimic the Scottish peaters a little too much? But yeah, it’s good and flawless. SGP:453 - 83 points.

Yoichi 10 yo (57%, OB, Japan, single cask, cask #18D1A, 180ml, +/-2014)

Yoichi 10 yo (57%, OB, Japan, single cask, cask #18D1A, 180ml, +/-2014) Four stars It seems that this wee baby comes from the last ‘Single Cask Set’ aka the Tarudashi Genshu Yoichis that were only available at the Distillery. Colour: amber. Nose: a very peaty Yoichi this time, with many more ‘Japanese’ notes, that is to say cedar wood, incense, cinnamon, earth, smoked almonds… And let’s not forget our beloved Pu-erh tea. And walnuts, and roasted chestnuts. With water: pencil shavings coming out, it’s the wood that speaks out. Mouth (neat): very spicy, quite hot, extractive, with spices, oranges, lemon zests, burnt caramel, perhaps also chives, Peking duck sauce (I know Beijing lies in China), ginger… With water: really spicy. Cloves, cinnamon, caraway… The usual gang. Marmalade in the aftertaste. Finish: long, very spicy but rounded, with more marmalade. A feeling of rosewood – on the palate? Comments: very very good but the oak and its spices are a little too apparent for me. Marginally too apparent. SGP:562 - 85 points.

Yoichi 15 yo (61%, OB, Japan, single cask, sherry, cask #412163, 180ml, +/-2014)

Yoichi 15 yo (61%, OB, Japan, single cask, sherry, cask #412163, 180ml, +/-2014) Two stars This one from the same set. Colour: deep gold. Nose: sulphur again! Even more sulphur than in the ‘Sherry & Sweet’, mind you. A machine gun after target practice, a kilogram of black truffles, and a whole box of used matches. Really extreme in this style. Water may not help, it rarely does in this kind of context… With water: indeed. Burnt soy sauce and rubber. Mouth (neat): rubber and burnt fruits, especially raisins, plus some steak that you would have forgotten on the barbecue. A very strange feeling, everything got kind of burnt to death. With water: a little better because water brings the fruitiness out. Raisins and oranges – overbaken, of course. Finish: long, burnt. Comments: it’s a style, as they say in art school. Funny but it went too far from me – was it a wacky cask that they never dared bottling before? These burnt raisins would never leave you alone! SGP:372 - 75 points.

Yoichi 20 yo (60%, OB, Japan, single cask, sherry, cask #400690, 180ml, +/-2014)

Yoichi 20 yo (60%, OB, Japan, single cask, sherry, cask #400690, 180ml, +/-2014) Five stars Another one from the latest Tarudashi Genshus… Come, come, I’m ready… Colour: full gold. Nose: oh wait wait wait, this one’s so different! Smoky and mentholy in the most gracious manner, with patchouli, old clothes, oranges still on the tree, verbena, tobacco, precious teas, elderflowers… What’s this spell? With water: oh sugar, stuff from a beehive! Always love it when that happens. Honey… Mouth (neat): magic. Yoichi at its best, and we all know that Yoichi’s best could be totally stellar. Magnificent herbal and floral arrival, with many kinds of mentholated raisins in the fat and long middle, and then the most elegant citrus. Some kind of brilliant old herbal liqueur, just without any obvious sugar, something that the chiefs of the monks would have kept for themselves. Buggers! With water: Zeus’s own mead indeed. Indeed, there are notes of great artisanal mead. Finish: long, with the most welcome bitterish and smoky signature. Always love it when some bitterer notes come along at this point, that keeps your palate fresh – as fresh as a palate can be after seven Yoichis. Comments: very impressed here. Now go find this – and remember, only 180ml. Yes, 18cl. SGP:573 - 92 points.

(Arigatogozaimashita Chris at Sushi + Soul in Munich)

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






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