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Nikka Miyagikyo 12 Year Old

Average score from 5 reviews and 10 ratings 87

Nikka Miyagikyo 12 Year Old

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Nikka Miyagikyo 12 Year Old

Miyagikyo distillery was founded in 1969 by Nikka, also known for their other distillery Yoichi that is located on the northern island of Hokkaido. Miyagikyo is located close to Sendai, a town 300 km to the north of Tokyo, and the distillery was called Sendai for a period of 32 years to be renamed Miyagikyo only after Nikka was taken over by the Asahi Brewery Company in 2001. Miyagikyo’s production output is actually larger than Yoichi’s, with most of its malt going into Nikka’s popular range of blended or vatted whiskies and with only a small percentage being bottled as single malt.

The nose is soft and very fruity with intense flavours of vanilla and apricots. After a while there are hints of sherry, followed by crème brûlée and caramel. Light smoke is very faintly detectable in the background.

The palate is full-bodied and buttery. Flavours of vanilla and fudge carry the day, together with notes of chocolate and nutmeg. The smoke that I had detected on the nose is now gone.

The finish is long, warming and mouth watering. There is a light nuttiness and a hint of menthol that evaporates right at the end.

Miyagikyo 12-year old is one of my favourite everyday malts. There is not one element that would let you down: the nose is sublime, the palate is nicely muscular, and the finish is both long and warming. Pour me a dram of this one anytime!

Thank you for the enlightening review. I must say that the price tag on this whisky is a bit high for a simple every day drinking bottle, at least for me. I was planning on buying a bottle but I have decided against it. On Saturday night, I tasted an Old Malt Cask Bowmore 17 that blew my socks off with its sweet complexity. It was quite a surprise to go to a dinner party and have the wife of the house pull that out of her collection. The bottle was dusty and about one quarter full. Time did not dull the glory of the 17, thankfully.

Hi @rigmorole, and many thanks for your comment. I agree that at current prices in Europe and the US this is one of the pricier everyday malts, but then what is there to do? Had fun reading your dinner party episode. Indeed, something like this might not happen too often...


There is something oddly comforting about opening a Japanese single malt, especially from the power house Nikka, because you know you're always in for a treat. And this entry level 12 is a must have on any shelf.

The warm chocolate Christmas cake sets the tone for a complex nosing experience. First come the dried figs and raisins with a healthy drop of vanilla. Juicy fruits are next in the shape of pears. Let it catch it's breath and in come salty wild red berries and a handful of almonds. A very complex nose on a relatively young malt.

The full-bodied spirit cascades in with luscious chocolate, black peppercorns and candied orange. Chew it for a while (you will want to, believe me!) to welcome red grapes and hazelnuts in a swirl of sticky toffee.

The distinct aftertaste has a curious 'twang' to it. Not too oily, not too dry, it ends with lovely citrus and mint.

Just another malt that re-affirms my faith in the Land of the Rising Sun.

This review is for the 2011 bottling


I have yet to come across a Japanese whisky that I didn't like. Sure, some are better than others but generally any expression with Kanji symbols on the label is going to be good. And so is the case with this Miyagikyou 12.

A nice nutty nose brimming with honey coated almonds sprinkled over a bowl of treacle with a burnt caramel topping. Finally a drizzle of brandy and coconut shavings give way to something a touch floral.

Here's where I'm a little stumped. The palate screams unmistakeable sherry but my research shows none of that. Nevertheless there are typical sherry notes in this expression. Honey and clove mixed with big fat red grapes followed by a pleasant cinnamon spiciness and ending with burnt citrus, aniseed and a pod of cardamom.

The dry finish is quite long and has a playful licorice twang to it.

But I keep going back to the palate - I'm sure there is a sherry cask in there. Somewhere!

Yes the Japanese are good at taking an excellent product and tweaking it to be more reliable. As for the highs and lows of sheer whisky genius and wanton stupidity, not there for me in what I have been able to try, but some very delicious offerings to be sure. It's amazing how some exotic flavors creep into their whiskies, such as anise and cloves. I am interested in trying some higher end offerings. Not to be found in Portland.

The Miyagikyou range is certainly one of my favorites! I'm looking forward to visiting the distillery in the near future.


Well, it's been a couple of weeks since I posted the other Nikka whiskies I've been tasting (was away on vacation for a week, and life and work have been busy) - but we are back with the first of two single malts.

One of Nikka's two distilleries, Miyagikyo produces the more lightly fragrant and fruity malt (the distillery also makes Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky). They are available in 10yo, 12yo, 15yo and NAS (made to be drunk mizuwari-style, in a highball).

The nose is quite malty, with vanilla pods, light honeys and caramels, and tropical fruits like mango and papaya. Floral and perfumy. More oakiness than you would expect from a 12 year old. Very nice. Water brings out that fruitiness, and also some peat.

The palate has many of the same characteristics as the nose, but features a little more oak, honey and vanilla. With water, it gets more bitter and herbal.

There is a wisp of smoke on the oaky finish, which is quite long and deep. This is a lovely single malt, and not without some bite; but there is something about it that leaves me wanting a little more. I remember tasting the 15 year old at WhiskyLive Toronto last year, and think I like it a little more - but this 12 year old is well worth investing in.


Nose, Taste, Finish and Balance are graded out of 2.5 each:

Nose: Immediately a huge serving of malt and cereal, mixed in with honey and rhubarb. A second approach reveals a fair amount of accompanying smoke, as well the woody aroma of an over-heated antique shop, all working to give this malt a wonderfully complex nose. 2.0

Taste: A medium bodied coating of gentle oak-laden spice envelopes the palate, offering a platform for the rhubarb and vanillas to work their magic. The honey and malt-coated cereal is ever-present yet not as abundant as on the nose. 2.5

Finish: A fluffy burnt marshmallow finish, with the marshmellow having been held in the fire for too long, and thus picking up the smoke and wood flavours from the fire, as well as a slightly bitter kick from the burnt edges. 2.0

Balance: Miyagikyo and Yoichi are deservedly the two single malt jewels in the Nikka crown, and I've now had the pleasure of sampling both. Unfortunately the Yoichi that I reviewed was only a 10 year old, and thus it may not be fair to compare it with this 12 year old Miyagikyo. Nonetheless I do feel that there is a greater depth of character to be found in this whisky. The Miyagikyo possesses a more pronounced and complex sweetness, as well as a more refined edge of smoke and spice, thus making it a luxuriously complex malt and ideal for after dinner. I speculate that the Yoichi 12 year old may be of an equal standing, however its vibrancy will most likely be better suited to an early evening starter. What it does show however is that Nikka do have two very fine single malts up their sleeve, more than capable of rivalling Suntory's Hahushu and Yamazaki malts. And when it comes to the sweet-malt championship belt, any bout between Nikka's Miyagikyo and Suntory's Yamazaki is sure to go the full 12 rounds. 2.0

"Over-heated antique shop" - a great description of that dusty but pleasant aroma with a faint whiff of old wood polish and well worn upholstery.

Very evocative @OJK

Many thanks @Jean-Luc! I agree, the dust and the old wood polish is definitely part of that whole aroma. I'd say it's definitely more appetising in the glass than in the shop!

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