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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. This particular single cask expression was distilled on 4 October 1999 and bottled on 9 July 2013 by La Maison du Whisky from cask #67223. Nowadays, Miyagikyo stock is depleted to a degree that we likely will not see similar bottlings for a number of years.
The nose starts with some slight alcoholic burn, followed by a hint of brine and a very delicate smoke note. There is also malted barley, oranges, and a bit of caramel. Adding water brings forth more caramel flavours, together with notes of apricots and lemons. The smoke is still there but its impact is now greatly reduced.
The palate is medium-bodied, hot and spicy – clearly, this baby needs water! I then detected notes of butter biscuits and malted barley, but not much else. With water there are lemons and grapefruits at first, then sweeter flavours kick in, such as mango, honey, and more caramel.
The finish is of medium length and pleasantly warming. Notes of caramel and malted barley last to the very end.
This is a rather pleasant and surprisingly complex Miyagikyo, given its relatively young age. It needs experimenting with water but if done carefully the result is rewarding. The most fun part for me was the palate where the flavours take an interesting trajectory from bitter to sweet. Also, I had not had a peated Miyagikyo before and was pleasantly surprised by how well this worked, at least on the nose. Good and complex stuff at almost 14 years old!