Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Nikka Book

My friend Nicholas Sikorski at La Maison du Whisky has sent over a copy of a beautiful new book published by La Maison about Nikka whisky: "The Nikka Book".
He included some of La Maison's French publications in the package and, though I am afraid my appalling French means I am not in a position to judge their content, they are all a pleasure to "read", just because of the beautiful photography and page design.

"The Nikka Book" is in English and is being distributed to clients and contacts of La Maison. There is a fold out section at the start of the book with profiles of Nikka's distilleries and some history of the company. It taught me a thing or two. The rest of the book introduces Nikka's whiskies and some of the ideas of Stanislav Vadrna, the well known bartender and Nikka "ambassador". It is not trying to be a comprehensive reference tome, more of a coffee table or a bar top diversion, and it succeeds.

There was a launch for the book on June 14 at the Curio Parlor in central Paris, home to the only Nikka Bar outside of Japan and the monthly Nikk'afterwork soirées that I mentioned in this previous post. To coincide with the launch, La Maison also organised the first Nikka Perfect Serve Contest with Stanislav Vadrna.

Vadrna enjoys a quiet moment with a Yoichi

They plan to hold these bartenders' competitions in ten European capital cities (Paris, London, Barcelona, Rome, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Brussels, Moscow, Munich and Prague) with competitors asked "to present the perfect serve of any version of Nikka whisky to a panel of judges acting as customers."

Sikorski explained: "More than just the drink itself, what the judges look for are all the hallmarks of the perfect bartender: a warm welcome into the bar, pleasant small-talk, great knowledge of the products, the ability to give advice and defuse potentially difficult situations, plus a sense of ritual and good manners sufficient to make even the simplest drink an unforgettable experience. "

Up for grabs is a week's holiday for two to Japan including VIP visits to Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries. The final will be held in Paris on the 27th of September, during Whisky Live Paris, and will see the winners of each leg going up against each other.

Anyway, the winner of the Paris leg was Carlos Madriz from L'Hotel, Paris 75006. "Totally unphased by all of Stanislav's efforts to catch him out or lead him astray," Sikorski reports, "Carlos stunned all three judges ... with his use of a sake tokkuri and ceramic pot for keeping his customers' whisky at exactly the right temperature, as with his sheer amiability and attention to detail. "

After all the book launching and competing, the evening got into full swing with another Nikk'afterwork event, starting with mizuwaris and the very interesting sounding "nikkahuettes" (the French for peanut is cacahuette...): dried malted barley direct from the kilns of Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries. "A surprisingly good to nibble on and very addictive," Sikorski reports.

"Nikk'afterwork" at the Curio Parlor
As I have said before, I am getting envious of this Paris scene.
Photographs provided by La Maison du Whisky.


chris said...

Chris, do you know where else they are releasing the book? Japan?

Nonjatta said...

Sorry, perhaps I did not make that clear enough. I think it is being distributed in Europe, primarily to customers and contacts of La Maison, rather than being pushed as a product in itself.