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Nikka Coffey Still Single Grain

Japanese Corn Whisky

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@VictorReview by @Victor

8th Jul 2014


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Nikka Coffey Still Single Grain Whisky is assumed to be made from 100% corn/maize. The reviewed bottle was newly opened, decanted to a smaller sample bottle and now sampled 3 months later. I also had whisky from this bottle the day it was opened, and have sampled it twice previously from restaurant samples. I found no Age Statement on the bottle

Nose: rich, oaky/maple-y with rich underlying corn; sweet with a hint of sour

Taste: delicious resinous oak flavours on a bed of sweet corn; caramel and vanilla follow in the second wave, with a distinct sour balance; the corn flavour is there, but takes second place to the wood flavours

Finish: strong long finish; this bottle finishes to the sour side

Balance: my first restaurant samples of this impressed me enormously, and I would have rated them at 93 pts, or more. This bottle is not as impressive, but is still enjoyable whisky. The first samples I tasted showed me a little more rich corn flavour, and less sourness going into the finish

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Frost commented

@Victor thank you for this review. This is a very interesting expression by Nikka. DO the corn notes lend a bourbon element?

5 years ago 0

Victor commented

@Frost, thank you for your kind words.

Well, a 'bourbon element' to me means either or both of 1)new oak flavours or 2)rye flavours, of moderate intensity. I find corn to have such a mild flavour that despite its being on average about 75% of the grain used in bourbons, that is is generally untastable in bourbons behind the flavours of rye and new oak...UNLESS the bourbon in question has a very low rye content, like standard Buffalo Trace bourbon (approx 8% rye), in which the corn is tastable.

As to the 'body' or texture of the beverage, corn does indeed give a thick, smooth, and somewhat oily body to bourbon, so that a thick body is another element that could be described as a 'bourbon element'. The body of this Nikka Single Grain I described as "medium", but it does have the fullness of corn to it. If you want to bring into focus the thick 'body' given by corn, try tasting side by side a standard bourbon and a whisky made from 100% or 95% rye grain. You should be able to notice the difference. The rye will have a much thinner texture. A very high corn content whiskey, like the Tennessee whiskey George Dickel, should make the comparison even more obvious.

Nikka Coffey Single Grain does not strike me as being very bourbon like because there is no rye grain present and the wood is presumably re-used, and hence much less potent, and much different, in its wood flavours. What Nikka Coffey Single Grain does give the drinker are very nicely presented flavours of corn. The better samples I have had of it were my very favourite corn whisky I have had. This reviewed sample was not as impressive, but still enjoyable.

5 years ago 0

Victor commented

Scratch that last comment about used oak. This oak tastes new, though I don't know for sure that it is.

5 years ago 0

Frost commented

@Victor - thank you for the thorough response. I doubt there are many single grain products out there - you've made me very curious.

5 years ago 0

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