Nikka Miyagikyo 15 Year Old

The Nikka Miyagikyo 15 Year Old is another intriguing single malt from Japan. It comes from the Miyagikyo distillery, which uses steam heat distillation in order to get a different taste from the rest of the Nikka brands. It’s located in northern Japan, “in Sendai (lat.38 N), Miyagi Prefecture, northern Honshu”

Colour: heather honey, mead. On the nose: caramel, chocolate, wood, touch of brine, very complex, rather promising. The kind of pleasant, sharp metallic tang one finds in a lot of single grain whisky – not a bad thing to my nose. (Does this come from the Coffey stills, I wonder?)

In the mouth: Not as bold a palette as the nose promised, but there’s still quite a bit going on. At first a chewy barley flavour, but then, leave it in your mouth long enough: the sweetness comes through, touch of sherry and pepper that seems too distant at first. Fruit – not apple, but something like it. Then a note of cinnamon and finally the caramel. Quite a light and finely balanced dram.

Personally, if this possessed more fullness in the mouth, it would have been an absolute cracker. Still, it’s yet another sign that the Japanese produce whisky every bit as good as the Scots. A bottle of this would set you back £80 or so.


I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine, among other publications, and have been a whisky judge for competitions including the World Whiskies Awards. I've done other writing too: several mass market genre novels, a few short stories, including for BBC Radio 4. For my day job (I know, I don't get out much) I work in digital content. Follow me on Instagram.com/maltreview/ or Twitter.com/MaltReview. Generally, my tastes lean towards ex-sherry cask and ex-wine cask influences on the spirit, but I'm not so fussed as long as the whisky's gone into good wood.

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