A Japanese Tribute
Howdy once again friends! How have you been? Any interesting drams since our last meeting? This post will go over a dram from Japan that’s a tribute to the father of Japanese whisky.
Today we have the Nikka Taketsuru. This dram is named after Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky. Taketsuru, after learning the craft of whisky making in Scotland, returned to Japan and worked at the distillery now known as Suntory. He later went on to establish the Nikka distillery. The story of Taketsuru is a beautiful love story where whisky is at its core. I hope to do a post on that story someday…
In the meanwhile, lets get sipping on the Nikka Taketsuru. I had first heard about this expression from an interview with Richard Betts and Tim Ferris. I had wanted to try it out since then. There was of course a lot of buzz about Japanese whisky created by the man in the big yellow hat, but I wasn’t really that keen on trying any at the time. But the review by Betts got me interested in this malt.
The Nikka Taketsuru is labelled as a pure malt. It is a blend of malts only from two different distilleries, Yoichi and Miyagikyo- both established by Taketsuru. There is no age statement with this bottle. I actually went to look for the 10 year old, but apparently it was no longer available. I don’t seem to see the 10 year on the website either. It is bottled at 43% ABV.
On pouring a dram, it has a nice amber tone to it, very clear. While swirling it in the glass, it is very nice to see. There is a light cling ring with some legs and tearing.
On the nose, the Taketsuru seems complex but delicate- maybe paradoxical. There are notes of vanilla, cream, oak, caramel, and honey. Some other sweet notes… is it sherry? I tried to remember why it reminded me of my childhood.. Bit-o-honey? It was also as if it were delicately spiced. Did I detect a hint of ginger?
I added a dash of water and I noticed the oak/ woody notes open. The vanilla, cream, honey, and spice notes all seemed to diminish.
I took a sip. Nice. Undiluted, the Taketsuru was very mild on the tongue. Notes of ginger, caramel, honey, and cream. There was also a touch of oak. On adding a few drops of water, I noticed, interestingly enough, that the vanilla, honey, cream, and oak notes rounded out. The ginger notes seemed to have all together disappeared.
The finish was very short. Some lingering notes of cream and honey. Very delicate.
So, I give the Nikka Taketsuru an 88 out of 100. It is a very lovely malt and very delicate. I would suggest being very frugal with the addition of water as it seems to diminish the spectrum of flavors here. It is very easy to drink at 43% ABV. The delicacy with complexity of this dram may be the reflections of many aspects of Japanese culture- old with new, traditional with modern, strong with soft. I offered this to a friend of mine who had traveled to Japan many times. On taking a sip she very happily said, “It’s like sake!”. Which makes me wonder if this was what Nikka was going for. A delicate, yet complex, whisky, reminiscent of sake. A tribute to its founder, Masataka Taketsuru.
Friends, if you’ve read this far, I want to say thanks! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the newsletter. It’s totally free and you will get alerts to the newsletter in advance. As a thank you to you, I will send you a free tasting template and tasting guide that you can use to help you with your own whisky tastings. And if you know anyone that would enjoy this, please them know. I will thank you from the bottom of my heart.
With this I will close this post of the dMann’s Whisky Notebook. I would like this to develop into something that will allow you to get ‘in the know’ regarding whisky. I hope to come up with some sort of cool tagline that I can close with. But until then, I would like to remind everyone that, those who are in the know, enjoy their whisky responsibly.
Addendum (12 February, 2015): A fellow blogger did a great review on 17 year old expression of this. Check out Whisky U’s write up...