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Nikka From the Barrel

Practising the Art of Zen - Patience, Daniel San!

6 1184

@RianCReview by @RianC

24th May 2021

1

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    84

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Distribution of ratings for this: user

  • Brand: Nikka
  • ABV: 51.4%

This is my second bottle of NFTB and I have to say I really enjoyed my first bottle. I picked this one up a couple of years back now and this has been open a good few months at least.

Review is neat, bottle just under half full.

Nose - quite grainy at first contact but it pays to be patient here as there is a richness underneath that needs a bit of coaxing out. Sweet, spicy oak, lots of toffee, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, dark plums and a hint of peat.

Taste - Pleasing, oily and rich mouth-feel that feels more like a malt than a blend (I don't recommend water with this batch - gets very grain forward and thins out quickly). More toffee, oranges (juice and zest), light grain sweetness (hot, yes - raw, no) and more of the spices from the nose. Decent balance.

Finish - short - med. Some fresh grain notes, spice and orange and plum sweetness remain. Drying with some black tea tannins.

I have to admit my first impressions of this bottle weren't great - I think I said it felt like someone had tipped Ben Nevis into some vodka! I am quite surprised here today how much I am now enjoying it. The grain has softened and the maltiness has pushed itself more into the mix. I like the slightly unusual oak and plum notes and it balances sweet and spice nicely. Yeah, this is OK now. Not quite as 'wowing' as my last bottle was but, as it is now, and if the price were right, I might yet consider another purchase.

11 comments

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

Hmmm, nice review, but not exactly a ringing endorsement. I’ve got one of those tucked away in the back of the cabinet unopened. It was a gift from a friend a few years ago. I’m thinking I might just have to regift it.

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@BlueNote - My last bottle was from 4 or so years ago ( with the older packaging) and I'd have easily scored that in the high 80's - if it's from that era I'd be tempted to crack it rather than gift.

If I'd reviewed this on opening 70 would have been a generous score, honestly. The difference here is night and day though and I'm genuinely and pleasantly surprised - I was all set to get the knives out ha! I guess air, and at least two decantings, have really helped the malt(s) assert themselves?

I sent @wierdo a sample and am now intrigued to see how he's found it. I was feeling a bit guilty for sending it laughing

4 months ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I found this one to be a competent whisky, but not outstanding. My note on my review says the last dram convinced me not to trade away my spare. But I haven’t opened it. Yet.

I hope this review doesn’t discourage one of my dear connosr friends from wanting a bottle that I am carefully holding for him....

4 months ago 2Who liked this?

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

I think I gave this one an 84 as well. It was OK, I would drink and enjoy it but not purchase a whole bottle. I think Japanese whisky is a bit overhyped and overpriced right now.

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@casualtorture One could argue that many types of whisky are overhyped and overpriced right now...

4 months ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

I think that variation in batches is a big thing with Nikka Whisky from the Barrel. Appraisals are all over the map.

4 months ago 3Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

Batch variation is a given with whisky, but when the batches start to vary by too much, then one has to wonder whether one is buying the same whisky. I don’t have enough experience with Japanese whisky to know if this is common to Japanese whiskies. There is certainly batch variation in Scotch whisky, but I have not encountered, or noticed, batches being wildly variable in the way that this one seems to be.

4 months ago 2Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@Nozinan - 84 is still a decent enough mark but patience (as in months!) is definitely required. There are some unique flavours that are worth trying, and the blending is done well but, given the 500ml bottle size, better value is out there for sure. Personally, I think they are using younger and inferior grain than in previous batches.

@BlueNote @casualtorture @Victor - I doubt I'll be seeking out anymore Japanese whisky for a while, which is a shame as there are many I'd like to try but will not pay the ridiculous prices. Declining quality and inflated prices are not a great business model but they seem to keep selling so what do I know ...

Incidentally, did anyone see the recent announcement on transparency from the Japanese industry? Basically, they will soon have to declare if any non-Japanese whisky is in there. So not exactly a ringing endorsement of their quality standards but at least some honesty is welcome.

Nikka's website already suggests this particular bottling has some foreign influence, shall we say? ha! So my impression of Ben Nevis might not be that far from the truth ...

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

@NamBeist
NamBeist commented

Thank you for your review. I hope that Ben Nevis 10 yo will be available soon. It is very very scarce these days. That is no wonder because it seems to be the source from Nikka From The Barrel. I like NFTB, but the Ben Nevis is another ball game.

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@NamBeist - You're welcome! Yeah I wish it was more available and kick myself for not buying several when the 10 was £30 not all that long ago! It seemed to suddenly spike up to £50 (which is too much) and then become rare as hens' teeth.

I try not to think about what happens behind the scenes at that distillery too much as my brain can't take it! Such a lovely malt that is criminally, well I was about to say underused but that's not quite right ha! It's certainly less available than it should be which is a real shame.

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

Wierdo commented

@RianC I've not opened the sample you sent me yet so I'm quote intrigued to try it now! I have had some Nikka FTB in the past from a bottle my brother in law had. I thought it was a pleasant enough whisky to drink. But I wasn't convinced enough to buy a bottle.

(I did nick the empty bottle though and now use it as my infinity bottle)

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

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