If you haven’t heard, Japanese is more popular than ever before. Nikka, owned by Asahi, is one of the leaders, creating a variety of whiskeys at its Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries. Some are sold as single malts with the distillery name on it, and the rest are blended together in various ways under the Nikka label. As much as many fawn over Japanese whiskey, I personally have a love/hate relationship with it because I think it can be incredible, but it’s too frequently drowned in water. In my short time drinking Japanese whiskey, I’ve been completely blown away by Nikka Pure Malt 21 Year, not particularly impressed with Yamazaki 12 or Nikka Coffey Grain, and completely turned-off by Ohishi Sherry Cask. This time I’m drinking Nikka From the Barrel, Nikka’s highest proof offering at 51.4%, a massive jump from the standard 43%.
Nikka From the Barrel, Whisky Advocate’s 2018 Whisky of the Year, is a blend of single malt and single grain whiskeys, made in the same way that Blended Scotch Whiskeys are (except not made in Scotland). Over 100 whiskeys are blended together, aged in various bourbon barrels, sherry butts, and more to create this Japanese whiskey. Oddly, “From the barrel” does not mean cask strength, it actually is equivalent to 90 British Proof. Regardless, I’m excited to get to know this whiskey, so let’s get exploring in this Nikka From the Barrel review.