Nikka from the Barrel

Robust Japanese Wood

Reviewed by
Connosr member:



23rd Dec 2015

Reviewer rating:


About this score:

The average score for this whisky is 87.

Best price to buy online:

Tasting Notes by Victor

The reviewed sample is thanks to @Robert99. This is blended malt without an age statement

Nose: strong intensity thick sweet maple with baking spices of cassia, cloves, and nutmeg, like Danfield's 21 yo Canadian or an old bourbon. I really cannot smell malt at all, but what I do smell here I like. The massive wood spice balances the noticeable sweetness. Added water intensifies the nose and brings out high-pitched crystalline sugar. I love this nose with water. Score: 22/25 points

Taste: strong, without water added, you do get tastable barley malt along with the intense wood flavours. This is a pretty chewy body, which I like. Licorice and hickory wood present in the mix as well. Added water diluted and bundled the flavours, without improvement. With water, the barley grain flavours disappear. Score: 21.5/25 points

Finish: long length. Stays intense and loses the sweet component. Water added mellows out and homogenises the flavours. Score: 21/25 points

Balance: this is a pleasant and robust drink. It has good balance, but not great refinement. Being a fan of intense flavours, I am defintely a fan of Nikka From the Barrel. Score: 21.5/25 points

Total Sequential Score: 86/100 points



Strength: very strong flavours, especially with a couple of drops of water added. Score: 23.5/25 points

Quality: high quality of all of the flavours, though it is hard to taste the barley-malt. Score: 21.5/25 points

Variety: very adequate variety of flavours, though the barley is nearly invisible. Score: 21/25 points

Harmony: not all smooth in the balance, but pretty good, and enjoyable hearty flavours. Score: 20.5/25 points

Total Non-Sequential Score: 86.5/100 points



Comment: such are the vicissitudes af whisky distribution that it has taken me four years to finally get a taste of Nikka From the Barrel. I like it. I like it a lot, because I am a fan of robust flavours. It would be fair to say that I like this one more than the score might indicate. Nikka From the Barrel is not extremely refined, but it is quite enjoyable. If I were to taste it blind I don't think that I would identify it as barley-malt whisky


Whisky details






Pale Gold



JasonHambrey wrote:

Nice review - I agree. I don't know if I would have described it as robustly as you did - but I was hoping for a bit more complexity from my sample. However, I won't complain - I did like it - though I'm not the biggest fan of the bottle it doesn't pour very well...

24 December 2015 00:16

Nozinan wrote:

No, the bottle is quite awkward to pour but it certainly has a unique look to it.

Is this a blended malt or a multigrain blend?

24 December 2015 00:38

Victor wrote:

@Nozinan, my understanding is that Nikka From The Barrel is a blended malt.

24 December 2015 03:37

Jonesz wrote:

Victor, good review. This is one of my favourite drams. I have two in the bunker but had thought of buying another for the Christmas eve celebration tomorrow night.There are still 5 remaining in a provincial MLCC store approx 35 miles from here. Quite expensive here at $65 plus 13% tax for a blend in a 500ml bottle(which I really like BTW as it seems so understated and laboratory like, but I agree that it doesn't pour well. But worth every penny IMHO. Smaller pours from a smaller bottle but they give me that special feel.

24 December 2015 04:29

Jonesz wrote:

Victor I had always understood this to be a true blend of malt and grain. Just checked the boxes and bottles I have but they do not specify unless it is done so in Japanese.The box states it is Double matured blended whisky. In checking their website it does state that WFTB is a blend of malt and grain. Also I note that they are cutting costs a bit as the very nice outer box presentation is absent on the 5 bottles mentioned above.

24 December 2015 05:02

Alexsweden wrote:

A fine review Victor, thank you. This is easily one of my favorite blended whiskies but I also believe it is a blended whisky and not a blended malt. In any case it's taste far surpasses it's price tag!

24 December 2015 13:19

Victor wrote:

@JasonHambrey, @Nozinan, @Jonesz, @Alexsweden: gentlemen, thanks for your comments and participation.

My mistake about not knowing that Nikka From The Barrel is a blend of malt and 'grain' whiskies. That brings up another interesting question with regard to the flavours encountered. I really do not taste wheat whisky in this blend, so I suspect that the 'grain whisky' is likely all, or nearly all, from corn.

We don't see many blended Scotches at 51.4% abv, so it is also interesting that apparently the 'grain whisky' in Nikka From The Barrel was blended in at cask strength. I heard John Glaser speak once and he reported that ALL Scottish grain whiskies are distilled at above 90% abv before being diluted down, usually to 40% abv. The thick viscous body of Nikka From The Barrel is easily understood if they are using undiluted corn whisky as one of the principal components.

24 December 2015 14:00

Alexsweden wrote:

It would be interesting to know the ratio of the blend. I don't perceive the NFTB as bourbon-like at all. A big part made up of malt?

24 December 2015 19:03

Victor wrote:

@Alexsweden, it is hard to say how much variation there is among batches of NFTB, or any other whisky. This particular bottle is very woody, of a woodiness similar to the use of new wood or long aging in first-reuse wood. I notised that @Robert99 was not particularly fond of this bottle of Nikka From the Barrel. Now I know why, because he has publicly stated before that he doesn't care for the taste of maple in his whiskies. He rejects a lot of the Canadian products because of this element of his taste.

I enjoy a thickly-textured strongly flavoured style, so this is an easy whisky for me to like. This particular bottle only showed me the smallest discernible flashes of the taste of barley.

25 December 2015 16:44

Robert99 wrote:

@Victor I am glad you like it. I don't dislike the NFTB, but I find the finish to cover the quality of the grain. I also found an alcool taste that I don't like. In favor of it, I could say that it is improving a lot with time. I read that they may have used a Coffey still to do it and that in fact there is probably some of their Coffey grain whisky in it. I don't know if it's true, but since I have Nikka Coffey Grain, that came natural to compare it and I do prefer the Coffey Grain because it is very different and although I can find some part of it in the NFTB, as I was saying, the finish take all the place. BTW, I think that the NCG may have some wheat therefore the NFTB may some to...

25 December 2015 17:27

Alexsweden wrote:

I'm not particularly fond of maple notes myself but I don't believe I found any in my bottle I bought perhaps a year ago

25 December 2015 17:32

Robert99 wrote:

@Alexsweden I agree with you. The finish I refer too is a highpitch sherry with a lot of alcohol. I don't think the Maple flavor is a tenth of what you find in Canadian Rye, that is to my taste of course.

25 December 2015 17:41

Nozinan wrote:

I'm enjoying reading all of these comments. When I come back to Toronto I'll have to revisit this bottle and review this review again. I love the power of suggestion....

25 December 2015 18:28

broadwayblue wrote:

Nice review and discussion. This is one of my favorite open bottles. Love the nose as well as the chewiness and bold flavors. The bottle design is great too...I agree that it looks like it came from a laboratory. I'll have to bunker a few more of these as the 50ml will probably not last me that long. Too bad I haven't seen them in the States.

17 January 2016 18:59

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