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Nikka Taketsuru 12 Year Old

Average score from 7 reviews and 22 ratings 83

Nikka Taketsuru 12 Year Old

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Nikka Taketsuru 12 Year Old

I have had both this and the Hibiki 12 for quite some time and have tasted both separately and together in comparison.

I think many would take the Hibiki over this one because it is more appealing in both appearance as well as flavor profile, but the Taketsuru has more to offer down the line, in my opinion, here's why. Through tasting notes and then through my own deduction at the end.

Nose: Mix of red-berry/fruit juices (raspberries, cranberries, pomegranate). Cacao, mocha and tiramisu ice-cream. Green tea, sweet liquorice and dense sweet malt. Many dimension for what appears to be a generic blend.

Palate: Very sweet initial burst of red berries quickly balanced out by great bittersweet oak. Big lush cereal sweetness. Then a stream of flavors that follow in chaotic fashion yet in an orderly manner. You get the feeling the grain whisky is perfectly introducing the malty flavors here. Big natural ginger, mocha, damp digestives in green tea, vanilla pods, liquorice root and custard.

Finish: Vanilla, Cacao and a hint of Granny smith green apple musty note with that cereal digestive (dipped in green tea) flavor coming back as well. Finish with a slight oak and malty sweetness.

Wow! Lots of flavors for what appears at least to be a simple blend. Well it's not a simple blend by taste, oh no! Although the Hibiki is a match for pretty much any blend, no matter how good it is, this has just bested it or edged it, thats more like it.


Takesturu was the founding father of Japanese whisky. After spending a few years in Europe in the wine industry, he moved to Scotland for Scotch, where he spend a few more years learning the trade, then with all his knowledge he moved back to Japan to beging and malt revolution in the east. This Pure Malt (blend of single malts) is named in his honour.

  • Nose: so light and fruity, a nose made for summer! Sweet shops, lemon drops, melon pineapple and raspberry, crème anglaise and floral notes, bread note again as well, dinner rolls just out of the oven. With water much more doughy and not as clean.

  • Pallet: rich and luscious, confected pineapple and stone-fruits, grapefruit zest and hazelnuts, cherry cola also. With water delivery is much slower and more restrained. Don’t add water.

  • Finish: soft and delicate, buttered toast, vanilla and white chocolate. As Dave put it, dangerously drinkable. With water as above, not as good

Just to make sure u got it. Don't add water. This whisky just doesn't want it. The nose on this whisky is one of my favourite all time noses, just fantastic, unfortunately whats delivered on the pallet is simply not of the same quality. But on a summers day this whisky would be sensational!


This pure malt (blended) whisky is named in honour of Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky. It is matured for 12 years at the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries and blended.

This is my first taste of a Japanese whisky and I am surprised how much it reminds me of a Speyside. It's colour is Golden amber and on the nose it is light and fruity. I get plum, cinnamon, caramel, and sweetness.

In the mouth it is soft and thin. Sweet honey, apple juice, some dark fruits like plums, cinnamon and cereal.

The finish is short and sweet.

I must say that I found this a pleasant dram and it has inspired me to try more Japanese offerings. It doesn't set the world on fire but it does what it set out to do.

Don't know how much a bottle goes for in the UK, but in Japan you really get a lot of bang for the yen. In my opinion this is a whisky on par with Yamazaki 12, but for less than half the price. If you find any older expressions, Taketsuru is a whisky that age does wonders to.

Totally agree with you NilsG that the older expressions of Taketsuru are fantastic. But the Taketsuru 12 on par with Yamazaki 12? Really? It's a quality whisky but I wouldn't quite put it in the same class as the Yamazaki 12...


Pure Malt is nowadays called blended malt, as you are most likely aware. This whisky is thus composed of single malts from the Nikka stable (as Japanese distillers do not swap whiskies). It was named after the founder of the Nikka company, Masetaka Taketsuru.

The nose is very light and fruity with a whole bouquet of scented flowers. Very fruity on plum and rhubarb marmalade, apple pie, vanilla and a bit of caramel. Some roasted coffee beans and a whiff of oak. Very clean, almost too clean should such a thing exist.

The attack is very soft, almost watery, but immediately honeysweet. Apple juice with iced tea, some breakfast cereals and spices. Nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon. Some nuts now. Dangerously quaffable.

The finish is sweet, but very short.

This is an uncomplicated card players whisky from the Land of the Rising Sun.

A question from one with very limited whisky knowledge: Is the primary difference between "blended malt" and "vatted malt" one inwhich blended malt is composed of single malts from a single distillery, while vatted malt combines single malts from more than one distillery? Some clarification would be much appreciated. Thank you for your patience and insight.

@cherylnifer If I'm not mistaken I believe pure malt or vatted malt contains single malt whisky from different distilleries blended together. While blended whisky contains both malt whisky and grain whisky


Taketsuru 12yo is a blend using malt whiskies matured for twelve years or more from both the Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries. The term “Pure Malt” indicates that the whisky does not contain any grain whisky. It is named in honour of Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka, one of the two major Japanese whisky-producing companies.

The nose is fruity and floral, with a very nice bouquet of vanilla, caramel and peaches. Notes of cold coffee appear at the end.

The palate is smooth and very light with very distinct notes of apple. Indeed, this is almost too light, so that adding any water would not be a good idea.

The finish is medium-long but overall a bit flat. Again, vanilla and apples make an appearance.

Without doubt, Taketsuru 12yo is a very smooth and very drinkable blend. However it lacks the depth and complexity that I would expect from a good blend. Still, this was quite fun!


Please bare with me as this is my first review so hopefully I do this whisky justice.

To be honest, I was a bit reserved before purchasing this bottle as the price point ($69.99 in Ontario) isn't particularly expensive but not cheap either. After trying the Nikka Yoichi 10 year old earlier this year, I was left very unimpressed and worried this would be a let down as well.

Boy was I ever wrong. While I by no means have tried a great number of whiskies compared to many other more experienced individuals, this has to be one of my favorites under $100.

Nose: A very delightful aroma instantly hits you. While not overpowering, the smell of apple cider, caramel and peaches blend well and give you a subtle glimpse of what's to come. I detected a hint of a sake-esque/steamed rice smell for some reason.

Taste: Fantastic and well balanced. On first taste, the apple, peaches, honey and licorice come to the forefront in delectable harmony, followed by the oak in the background. While none of the flavors jump out, they instead balance well with eachother to produce a nice smooth and subtle taste.

Finish: Not particularly long, yet somewhat fitting for this whisky.

Conclusion: I very much enjoyed it and would recommend others to give it a try. While those who prefer a smokey whisky might not enjoy it as much, those who prefer their's on the smoother side will very much enjoy it.

I will have a chance to pick up this bottle when my girlfriend travels to another state. It is unavailable in Oregon. I take it you recommend it highly? I like the taliskers of two or so years ago. Lately, it's been uneven to me. I hope the 18 is perhaps from an older batch. Thank you for your helpful review.


I recall reading somewhere that Taketsura 12 year old is a vatting of malts from two Nikka distilleries: one is Yoichi and I can't remember the other. The bottle exemplifies Japan's preferences in whisky packaging: dark glass and an attractive, well-designed plastic cap. Also this comes in a curious 660ml bottle.

The whisky comes off as soft on first nosing from the bottle, with a sugary element. In the glass, it reminds me more than anything of a nice, gentle Speyside whisky, somewhere between Glenfiddich and Aberlour. It smells soft and fruity, with green apples and lemon icing. Also licorice. Occasionally I get a whiff of peat, which is confirmed when you smell the empty glass. It is definitely easy on the nose.

The body of the whisky is thick and honied. Fruit and licorice are at the front of the flavour, backed up by dry oak. It feels thick and mature. The development of flavour from soft and sweet to crisp and dry is very well-balanced. The finish is not particularly long, but a light peat flavour remains when the oak is gone.

Overall, this is the most subtle and least distinct of the three Japanese whiskies I've tried. It is what I like to call "dangerously drinkable," yet the body and taste are rich enough to encourage slow sipping. Fans of more robust whisky might find it too soft. Those who appreciate a tasty, balanced Speysider should enjoy it.

Note that should read "Taketsura," not "Taketsure."

Wow, I'm on a roll. Make that Taketsuru.

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