Friday, October 17, 2014

Nikka Single Cask Quartet for LMdW: 2014 Releases (2)

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

We’re continuing our review of the new quartet of Nikka single casks for LMdW with their Yoichi and Miyagikyo offerings, both peated (heavily and lightly resp.).
Miyagikyo 1996 (Lightly Peated), #66535, Remade Hogshead, 62%abv, 293btls
Yoichi 1991 (Heavily Peated), #129459, Virgin Oak Puncheon, 62%abv, 423btls

On the nose, the Miyagikyo is an explosion of fruit (apricot jam, pear drops, green apples, grape skin) but with lots of intriguing secondary notes floating by, too: pumpkin pie (with a good dose of nutmeg), smoked dried pineapple, maraschino cherries, honey doughnuts and a little bit of bacon in the background. The peat is very subtle – on the nose it adds something reminiscent of clothes the day after a barbeque, or a campfire doused with water.

With the Yoichi, the peat is much more pronounced, but not as much as you would think. It certainly doesn’t obstruct other aromatic dimensions – and there are plenty of those to be found: initially, a carpenter’s workshop, a humidor and old leather; then mango chutney, thick berry jam, hints of menthol and sage; a bit later, smoked mackerel (saba), smoked daikon, band-aids, muscle cramp spray, and chinsuko cookies. Very eclectic but it works, so why not…

On the palate, the Miyagikyo has the same fruits spotlighted by the nose at its centre but surrounded by sour (kabosu, shikwasa jam) and bitter (grapefruit peel, walnut skin) elements. It evokes crêpes Suzette but it’s also markedly spicy (chili peppers, sansho) and everything comes wrapped in a lovely faint peat furoshiki. What a delight.

The Yoichi is very different. It opens with a blast of pepper and smoke. Then, the thick berry jam hinted at by the nose appears in full glory with some applewood smoked turkey and smoked daikon on the side, all of this supported by a blend of exotic spices. Just like with last year’s Yoichi for LMdW, you’ve got virgin oak and heavy peat complementing (and complimenting) each other wonderfully.

The finish on the Miyagikyo is long and intense. It leaves an afterglow of woody aromas and it’s here that the light peat comes through most cleanly and clearly. The Yoichi’s coda opens with a gorgeous accent of sudachi and then fades on smoked agave, Nutella and candied orange peel. Both work well with water. Water cranks up the bitterness in the Miyagikyo, which is nice if you like that. With the Yoichi, water plays with so many ‘sliders’ on the aroma-and-flavour mixing console that you’ll just have to try and find your own sweet spot.

These two stellar single cask malt whiskies from the Nikka stable may be the only ones available this year anywhere in the world (since Nikka seems to have suspended their regular single cask releases in Japan), so I’d get them both if I were you. If I really had to choose, I would probably pick the Miyagikyo this time around… it’s a quirky take on the classic Miyagikyo profile and full of surprises unlike any other Miyagikyo single cask that’s been bottled in recent years.

13 comments:

Tony said...

Heavy price (too heavy at Master of Malt anyway) - £330 (415 Euro) for the Yoichi and £225 (280 Euro) for the Miyagikyou. Anyone know the LMDW price? Last year's excellent Yoichi less than half that!

Stefan Van Eycken said...

Are you referring to the specific single casks reviewed here? Because the labels are always very similar, so it is easy to be confused. Are you saying that these single casks - which are not on sale yet from LMdW - are available from Master of Malt already?

andyhohoho said...

Any idea why Nikka's suspending their single cask offerings?

Tony said...

Yes - same specific casks! At least they were on sale - sold out now.

Tony said...

It isn't the first time something like this has happened - I once got some Karuizawa from another store before it went on same at LMDW.

Tony said...

not sure if I can link here, but if so: http://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/yoichi/yoichi-1991-23-year-old-cask-129459-whisky/

keith said...

That's funny tony, it does appear LMDW was scooped on their own release...and certainly not surprising its already sold out, given they posted on twitter...Will be interesting to see how fast it goes over @ whisky.fr...

As for the price tag...well, I guess fingers crossed its less from LMDW. But, for better or worse, the "price of last year's X" has become a bit meaningless these days...I just look on the bright side and console myself with the fact that things like "From the Barrel" haven't skyrocketed, and they are still bringing to market new delicious and affordable options like The Nikka 12

...and that I bought some nice bottles back before the craziness...

Stefan Van Eycken said...

I think part of the reason why Nikka is not releasing any single casks in Japan anymore is a case of victim-of-its-own-success. Up until a year ago, those single cask were available for weeks and months (I know, hard to believe now in the current climate of a craze for all things single cask Japanese!). The recent things sold out instantly - and so they weren't part of their online shop's range for very long.

Also very interesting that Master of Malt beat LMdW with their scoop. It's probably intentional - beat the official release and then you can set the price you want (based on the fact that people won't know what the official price will be, and also partly taking advantage of people's fears that they may not be able to get hold of a bottle when it goes on sale from LMdW.)

I can only echo keith's comment - I am glad I have a nice stash of bottles bought long before the current blink-and-you-miss-it-and-then-you-have-to-pay-10-times-as-much-on-auctions climate. Here in Japan, there have even been recent releases of Hanyu (for department stores) literally hijacked by speculators. They got their hands on so much of the outturn that the only way to get a bottle was to pay their price (which was up to 10 times the original cost - is there any other whisky in the world that appreciates by 1000% on the same day it is released?)

keith said...

do you happen to be referring to the recent releases from isetan? I thought it was pretty funny that those were gone almost instantly, while the very well-priced houou-uhi was available at that same web shop practically all summer.

I'm interested now to see if any of the other "Exclusivité LMDW" releases will pop up elsewhere...with even higher markups I'd venture...

Stefan Van Eycken said...

Yes, the Isetan bottlings (among others). They had a "limit" of 5 bottles per person in the shop (the physical shop - not online). And well-known speculators and their buddies were ready when the doors opened. Other people in the line didn't even get a chance... within an hour, local auction sites were flooded with the new release - and the speculators made a few easy millions (yen, and that is no exaggeration!) I got to try it - but didn't get my hands on a bottle either in spite of trying very hard...

Powerlifter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cavalier said...

There's a different Miyagikyou single cask now over at LMDW - they kept that quiet! Confusingly also 62% and 1996.

Cavalier said...

And 2 Coffey Malt casks now. Strange.