Review: Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky

IMG_1953 Amidst all the craze around Japanese whisky, with many expressions dropping age statements or going out of production, there are a few great whiskies which appear to becoming more widely available (for now….) – including this one. This is a grain whisky, which, in short, means a whisky not made from malted barley as the definition arises from Scotland where the malts reign and this is part of the “other” whisky. Japanese whisky arose out of students of whisky who journeyed to Scotland to learn and take back what they learned – and, especially at the beginning (and still now) grains and stills were imported from Scotland to Japan – as in 1963 was the continuous coffey still used to make this whisky. The whisky is made in Miyagikyo. There aren’t many coffey stills currently in use, but they are around a few places, like here, or Crown Royal.

Nose: Vanilla, caramel, candied orange peel, light oak char, stewed apricot, and dry fresh oak. It is sweetly floral with a chamomile-type profile. Slightly sour, and dried corn husks come out with time too. Simple, but deep, and very well integrated. The use of oak seems very well in line with my experience with other Japanese whiskies, and this is very much like a well-aged (not necessarily long) grain whisky like the older Canadian corn whiskies (i.e. the highwood ninety twenty, or century reserve 21) or Scottish grain whiskies. Very pleasing. 27/30 (90%)

Taste: Hot and complex at first, before some vanilla, lemongrass, and creamy oak come rolling in with some chamomile, before fading slowly to spices. Between the way that your mouth experiences different textures and flavours as you go about tasting this whisky, and the overall balance – it’s a very enjoyable whisky, particularly the middle bit with the creamy oak. Great texture, and great balance of grain and oak. That creamy middle is just so fantastic! 28/30 (93%)

Finish: Cloves, tannins, honey, vanilla, chamomile, honeydew melon, fresh charred oak – good flavour but a bit dry, thin, and short. 17.5/20 (88%)

IMG_1956Conclusion: Very nice stuff! Good whiskies have a great start, middle, and end – and it’s rare to find whiskies which have such a nice middle as this on the palate. Pleasing all around. 18.5/20 (93%)

Overall: 91/100


5 thoughts on “Review: Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky

  1. Pingback: Nikka Coffey Grain | Selfbuilt's Whisky Analysis

  2. Picked up a bottle of this on my home from a recent trip to Japan, and wasn’t disappointed. I can see why some could be put off by its sweetness, but I actually found it more delicate than traditional Canadian or US corn whiskies. Definitely agree with the creamy mouthfeel comment – yum!

    Thanks for the review Jason. I’ve referenced it on my commentary page for this whisky (, as one of the positive ones out there. I expect it will go over with newcomers to whisky, when I do my next tasting party.

  3. Pingback: My Favorite “Standard Drams” of 2015 | Whisky Won

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