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Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt

Average score from 5 reviews and 7 ratings 84

Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt

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Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt

This is the new Miyagikyo no age-statement single malt released by Nikka on 1 September 2015 as a result of the radical restructuring of their whisky portfolio due to drastically depleted stocks. This bottling has replaced the entire Miyagikyo core range, i.e. the 10-, 12- and 15-year old expressions. (Nikka’s other distillery, Yoichi, faces exactly the same situation.) This review refers to a bottle that I picked up while on holiday in Japan last October.

The nose is light and fruity. It starts off with notes of vanilla and fudge, followed by apricots and a hint of lemons.

The palate is light-bodied and a tad spicy. Lemon and vanilla flavours come to the fore, followed by notes of fudge and marzipan. Sweet wood spice is omnipresent, and I got a whiff of smoke at the end.

The finish is of medium length and pleasantly warming. Lemon flavours are again very prominent, together with the ubiquitous wood spice.

This new Miyagikyo is a lightweight of a whisky and rather easy to drink. As is the case with the NAS Yoichi, I give Nikka credit for bottling this at 45% ABV, and it has got enough complexity to tempt me to revisit it from time to time. In my view, Nikka did a better job with this one than with the Yoichi, and from a price perspective there really are no complaints (less than 3,000 yen/30 US dollars for a 500ml bottle). Still, this is no match against the former core range.

@Pierre_W sounds like something I may enjoy.

I did have the previous NAS version, cost ¥1600 for 500ml with 43% ABV in Japan


These NAS Yoichis and Miyagikyos are the only remnants of Nikka’s once extensive portfolio. And even they aren’t going to stay the same. The only releases for the foreseeable future from Nikka will be without age. And even then, the new NAS Yoichis and Miyagikyos won’t look or taste the same as the old ones, presumably because younger whisky is being used. Before it’s all gone, I figured I’d review the older NAS versions of the two whiskies, starting with the Miyagikyo.

Nose: Sherry and Japanese oak at the fore. Malt, raisins, baking spices, dates, plums, pears, apples, cinnamon, caramel, and yes - cheesecake (thanks Pierre_W). A malty nose with a gentle spice compliment. Nice.

Palate: A quite light texture, with earthy flavours right off the bat. Sherry, earth, grass, gentle smoke, cinnamon, allspice, malt, cherry, and red apples.

Finish: Medium, with more malty goodness. Malt, nougat, hazelnut, smoke, apple, licorice, grass, Japanese oak, milk chocolate, and orange candy.

Thoughts: Yeah... genuinely good. Expectations were low based on how affordable this is. But it’s without a doubt a decent whisky. These days Japanese whisky prices are absurd, but this is a solid whisky with an unmistakably Japanese character at an affordable price. It’s not too young-ish, with a malty character and surprisingly sophisticated wood and spice. It’s no masterpiece, but there’s a good level of style and complexity to this. Easily one of Japan’s best bang-for-bucks, even in a 500ml bottle. Recommended.

@hunggar good review. How much is it in Taiwan? I didn't see it last time I was there.

It's a real malty expression and great value for money. You've touched on something that I think a lot of people are overlooking about these 40-46% ABV NAS expressions. They start off with casks that are older, and slide to be even younger in the vatting

@Frost, thanks for the comment. Both the Yoichi and the Miyagikyo are about NT700, just over US $20.

And yes, the Miyagikyo is a particularly malty one. As for the casks, I'd only be speculating about their process. But they've done a good job with their wood here. As I mentioned, I really didn't expect to like this one this much.


Nikka has entered the market with NAS bottlings from their two whisky distilleries. This is part one covering Miyagikyo. Sold in a 500ml bottle and a very cheap ¥1600 this just maybe the world’s cheapest single malt. The bottling is classic Japanese with white labels with black printed Kanji and Katakana, the edge of the substrate looks torn and homely. Placed on a shelf next to Suntory’s NAS expressions these bottles way under sell just on price. But how about on nosing and taste? Let’s find out. Nose: fruits, malt, rosemary, floral, tobacco

Taste: malt, liquorice, green grapes, crème brulee, marzipan

Finish: apples, pear, malt, saltiness, sherbet, orange peel

A malty green fruit bowl. The Japanese “malt monster”. This is all about the malt. I just repeated myself three times: malt. Thick and chewy and an easy sipper, while somewhat sweet. Sherry cask is used in aging, I am unsure for what length of time.

This is seriously good value for the price.

If it is malty, then there is nothing to do but to say that it is malty. 'Malty' has its place, for sure. Thanks for your review.

84 points for an inexpensive malt is a pretty fine deal, indeed.

If I wasn't overseas, I'd like to sit this one on the shelf and see how the taste evolves from an opened bottle. I just have a hunch it would open up more.


The Miyagikyo distillery is young, built in 1969. It is the largest in the Nikka concern, bigger even than Yoichi Distillery, which Masetaka Taketsuru founded on Hokkaido in 1934. Until 2001, this distillery was named Sendai, after the town in which it was built. This NAS bottling comes in 50cl bottles at 43% ABV. I am putting it head-to-head with the 10 Year Old.

The nose is surprisingly expressive on all kinds of citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit) with a truckload of vanilla and a nice touch of Japanese oak. Very typical. Pretty dry.

On the palate, it does not leave you unperturbed. Bit of oak, slightly drying, and loads of spices. Very sweet. Reminds me of mocha. And some chicory. So somewhat bitter. The fruit is very cooperative. Fruit tea.

The finish is longer than expected and remains spicy sweet.

I was pleasantly surprised by this young Japanese whisky. Very expressive.


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 sweet and nutty, full of vanilla, caramel, and with some notes of cheesecake. I also detected cinnamon and some woody character.

The palate is medium-bodied and sweet, with again caramel and vanilla making a distinct appearance. Half-way through the palate becomes surprisingly spicy.

The finish is mouth-watering and delightfully long, with notes of vanilla and caramel lasting until the very end and culminating in a nice bouquet of spicy flavours.

I am mightily impressed by this no age statement whisky. It has a delightfully rich nose, a colorful palate and a surprisingly long finish. In Japan a 50cl bottle markets for as low as 1,200 yen (about 10 Euros), which simply is incredible value for money. If you see a bottle, grab it!

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