Here's what I think is the new core Nikka blend, the 12 year old. It's in some pretty luxurious packaging, with a nicely designed bottle with a gold leaf design, in a blue box with a silk lining. I picked this one up at Scotch Whisky Auctions, and it's been open for almost a year.
The colour is a medium gold, with coppery highlights. On the nose, very sweet malt with menthol, ginger and caramel. A bit floral, but in the background I detect some older grain whiskies (or maybe I just like to pretend I can). Eucalyptus. Blood orange. Noses as if the ABV is higher than 43%. A bit peaty with water. Sweet and sharp, not as soft as expected.
On the palate the caramel becomes lighter, with more ginger, red apple skins, orange pith, nutmeg, cloves, fennel and milk chocolate. Oily mouthfeel - oilier with water, and maltier. Very complex and always evolving.
The finish is oaky with spice and that eucalyptus note. This is a very complex blend, nothing like blended scotch (but I didn't need to tell you that). If you have an aversion to eucalyptus / fennel / liquorice notes, you may not be into this one. I find it a bit too much in that direction, but still fascinating to taste. I'm trying it side-by-side with the Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old; as much as I like the Nikka 12, there is no comparison to the 17 (which is completely different of course, but I thought I'd try them together just for fun).