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.).
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.