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If you’re not familiar with Nikka, then you’re missing out. Having tried and loved several whiskies from them, I was very keen to give a Mayagikyou release a go. I don’t know if starting with the 15 yr old was the best choice as an introduction to the range, but it will have to do for now. This review is based on a 100 ml sample, and was watered only slightly.
Nose: Sherry, stewed apples, blood oranges, sultanas, balsamic vinegar, pine, soy sauce, malt, ginseng, pumpkin, and some heavy spices, such as chili, paprika, and allspice. Later I get aloe and spearmint. It’s not the most approachable nose, with bitter citrus, drying oak, and potent spices. However it is complex, and it opens up and becomes smoother and more inviting with time.
Palate: A powerful, rich, thick mouthfeel. Japanese oak, soy sauce, grass, charcoal, malt, raisins, roasted nuts, apple cinnamon, allspice, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon, and stewed fruits.
Finish: Those heavy oaky spices carry on, and we get roasted pecans, cashews, caramel, charcoal, raisins, earth, smoke, grass, mustard seed, toasted sesame seed, unsweetened chocolate, cloves, damp leaves, and rum balls.
This is my first Miyagikyou, and it’s apparently one of their more difficult ones. There’s a coarseness to this dram that initially gave me pause. However time, water, and patience pay off with this one. It boasts some sharp, pointed flavours that are usually much rounder and easier in other Nikkas that I’ve tried. But that edginess does become endearing, and the flavours here are big, bold and complex. This is one of the ballsiest Nikkas I’ve had, which is fun. Recommended.