Japanese Whisky Week – Day 1: Taketsuru 17yo (43%, Nikka)

In june I did my first ‘week’, called the Bourbon Week. Lot’s of Bourbons yes, but not all were actually Bourbons. I threw in the odd Rye as well. After the success of that week, and I have to admit, the fun I had by doing such a ‘week’, I thought it was time to do another week. So here is the first day of the Japanese Whisky Week! Again I’ll try to review seven Whiskies in seven days, and this time they are all from Japan. I thought that Japan was untill now a bit underexposed on Master Quill’s pages having reviewed none! But that’s about to change…

In 1918 one Masataka Taketsuru went to Scotland to learn the whisky trade at Longmorn, Ben Nevis and Hazelburn distilleries. During this time he met his soon to be wife Rita, and both returned to Japan. There Taketsuru founded Nikka with the building of Yoichi Distillery on Hokkaido Island in 1934.

Yoichi was built on the north island of Hokkaido considered by Taketsuru to be close to the natural environment of Scotland. Also copied was the way of distilling, two times in copper pot stills. In contrast to their Scottish counterparts is the use of new wood and slow-growing Japanese oak.

A lot of years later the Nikka company named a small series of pure malts after it’s founder. The series comprises of a 12yo, a 17yo and a 21yo. All Pure Malts are made up of only two components. Yoichi and Miyagikyo. The latter was founded in 1969 in Honshu. Both singles are great, so this Taketsuru should be no lemon.

Color: Full Gold (slightly pink).

Nose: Musty gravy. Nice slightly burnt wood. Sweetish fruits with pineapple. Sweat ánd men’s cologne. Powdery, almost like sawdust. Greenish. It smells a bit like those hard candies made out of fruity powder pressed into little pills. Sometimes a whiff of soap. All in all, very nice.

Taste: Spicy esters. Toast and a hint of tar. Tastes a bit dirty actually. Grainy with vanilla ice cream. Reminds me a bit of vodka. Greenish hints here too. Definitively not as sweet as the nose predicted. Half long sour wood finish which is a bit unbalanced. The toast and tar stay on for the, therefore bitter, finish. Alas too low in ABV.

Although this is quite a nice Pure Malt, for the money you can get a Yoichi or a Miyagikyo, that are (marginally) better. Still I do like this Taketsuru, and combining the two is an experience of its own. Just beware, because there is talk about batch variations.

Points: 85

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