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 of this 15-year old is fruity and complex. Right from the beginning there are sherry notes and the accompanying hints of rubber, very decent but well recognizable. One layer deeper I got raisins, orange peel, marzipan, some vanilla, as well as cinnamon and a touch of balsamic vinegar. There are also plenty of oaky and spicy flavours in here.
The palate is smooth and a tad spicy. The array of flavours is not as broad as the nose might have made you hope for, however there is still a fair amount of complexity. The raisins and sherry notes are back, together with cinnamon and nutmeg. Also, the wood influence has increased now, resulting in a dry and spicy experience, underpinned by caramel and a nice, full maltiness.
The finish is long, dry, spicy and very warming. It starts off with rather earthy and grassy notes, then cinnamon and chocolate take over, and the whole ends with a touch of smoke.
This is the oldest expression in Miyagikyo’s core range, and I loved it! While the 12-year old might be a better choice as a ‘laid-back’ everyday malt, this one will reward you big time once you get behind the complexity. The nose is fabulous, the palate is well balanced, and then there is a cracker of a finish! This 15-year old is a true showcase for what this distillery is capable of.