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Nikka Yoichi 15 Year Old

Average score from 6 reviews and 6 ratings 90

Nikka Yoichi 15 Year Old

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Nikka Yoichi 15 Year Old

Well, what have we here (say this in the Lando Calrissian voice, please): a Yoichi 15 Year Old. Let me dust off the sample bottle and pour this baby. It has become almost unaffordable at this point (if you can find a bottle, that is), so allow me to take my time for this. It was taken off the shelves some two years ago and it does not look like it will return inside a decade. Waxy and fruity nose on apricots, peach and yellow plums. Hint of incense, marshmallow and lots of vanilla and nuts. Freshly cut Granny Smith keeps it quite fresh. Young, green twigs. Mizunara wood. Very nice. The body is very light, which is a bit disappointing. Lots of citrus on the palate, joined by something milky. Pretty sharp at first sip, but quickly becomes a lot more delicate. Clear presence of peat. Oriental spices from the wood. The finish is medium long and brings out more of the fruitiness. A very accessible, lovely Japanese whisky. But the new NAS-releases (especially the ones on sherry) are no less good in taste or intensity – au contraire.

@hawkscotch It all depends on where you live, I guess. My suggestion would be Catawiki, as I work there as whisky expert - and we serve worldwide - but depending on where you live, that might not work out for you. Google is your friend.


I’m always happy to try a new Nikka release. I’m more familiar with the Miyagikyo and Taketsuru ranges, so I was excited to give my first Yoichi a go. The 15 seems like a good place to start.

Nose: Caramel, treacle, sherry, herbal notes, rich oak, red apple skin, cinnamon, dark dried fruits, with a faint smokiness. A very nice dryness.

Palate: Thick body and quite rich. There’s a good sherry influence here, but it’s indistinctive. Caramel, grass, anise, dry red fruits, red apple, apricot, and baking spices.

Finish: Leather, anise, herbal notes, hay, yellow grass, indistinct sherry, faint sultanas, oak, and wisps of smoke.

The wood influence here is interesting. Given the intensity of the oak, one would expect to have a much more drying finish. But where it would otherwise become dry and spicy, instead pops up a juicy sultana note which seems to ‘refresh’ the finish. Overall this one is good, although I don’t think it’s worth the steep price tag. But as always with Nikka, this is rather flawless and extremely drinkable.


What is it with the Japanese? They insist on doing everything so perfectly. Just like this 15 year old beauty from the Asian powerhouse that is Nikka.

Such a heady, almost dizzying, array of aromas greet you as you say hello to this beauty from the East. There's maple syrup covered dark fruits ladled on a stack of hot pancakes, sprinkled with woody cinnamon and then rounded off with a drizzle of sherry infused with subtle peat. Quite arresting actually.

The maple syrup and black pepper on the palate play a woody chocolatey tune that works in perfect harmony with an edgy pinch of cumin. You'll want to mull this one over for a while.

The long, oily finish sits on your lips for ages forcing you to make smacking sounds every two seconds. This makes you look quite silly in the process.

But that's OK...

In Australia the only prices I can find are: Yoichi 15 = $170, Yamazaki 18 = $275. For me, neither represent value for money at those terms.

There's a good reason why I usually resort to importing from the U.K. or Europe.. e.g. including shipping I can get ONE bottle of Yamazaki 18 to my door for AU $180.

I would love to try the Yoichi 15 as I think the 10 is pretty damned good.. it may be a part of my next import order. Totally willing to pick up a bottle before tasting thanks to all the very favourable reviews and comments here on Connosr and elsewhere. And thanks to @tabarakRazvi for this review, by the way!


Our final entry comes from Nikka's first distillery, Yoichi, on Hokkaido island. It was founded by Masataka Taketsuru in 1933 (I believe Miyagikyo was founded in the 1960s). Yoichi malts tend to be more robust, and a little smokier, than what comes out of Miyagikyo. Besides this 15yo, there are 10, 12, 20 and NAS standard expressions.

The nose is thick and robust, with wafting wet smoke. Dried fruits such as dates and raisins are predominant, but a strong maltiness is in the background holding it all together. Water brings out a certain meatiness. Reminiscent of the Taketsuru 21 year old. Beautifully rich.

The palate is gentle at first but develops in your mouth with oak (causing a mouth-drying effect). Oily and slightly vegetal, in a good way. Water ups the spice, showing cayenne, pepper and a hint of brine (an almost Springbank-y effect). Rich and delicious.

The finish is long, deep and rich with wafting waves of that gentle damp campfire smoke. I love this whisky - it's big and complex, yet also very harmonious. Beautifully done. And so this concludes my series on these six Nikkas - I hope you enjoyed reading about them as much as I enjoyed tasting them!


Yoichi is produced at Yoichi distillery, located on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island. The distillery belongs to Nikka Whisky Distilling Company that in turn is owned by Asahi Breweries. Nikka was established in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru, one of the founders of the Japanese whisky industry.

This is a rich nose! It starts with vanilla and peaches, followed by quite distinct cinnamon notes. There is a rubbery element hanging over it all. A good start into this tasting session!

The palate is medium-bodied, creamy and mouth coating. Right from the start there is some smoke, alongside – again – vanilla and cinnamon, followed by minty notes. Towards the end the palate gets more and more peppery.

The finish is rather long, with some chocolate making an appearance and smoke rounding it off.

I very much enjoyed this Yoichi, although I found the flavours a challenge to analyze. It is multi-layered, with fruity elements, smoke and rubbery notes all playing a role. An excellent single malt that is highly drinkable!

Nice review. I just picked up a bottle of this yesterday. I would venture a point or two higher based on the uniqueness of the taste and finish. It pops hard on the tongue. Reminds me of the pickled ginger you eat in between courses to cleanse your palate at sushi bars. Great finish on this baby.


Another Japanese whisky - seems fitting now that one is featured on the front page. Dropped by TWE and had a chat with Alex, and we decided that I needed the 15 YO, cheers Alex. Great call. Anyway.

Nose: Very sweet, very sweet indeed. Usually we talk about different kinds of peat, this is different kinds of sweetness. A distinct sheery'ness, but at the same time, it's like there's a bit of fruit juice added to the mix. The peat takes a real gentle backseat, acting more like a spice then an actual component. Very appetizing. Taste: At first - Nothing - this is a very unique delivery, it takes seconds for the flavours to arrive. When they do arrive it's very spicy, and aggressive - fairly quickly the spices subside and reveal slight gingery notes and then a nice intermezzo of sweetness. Again with the peat watching over all the different flavours. Finish: Long, well balanced, nice weight and it has a very fresh character to it. Gets slightly more nutty and peaty towards the end.

What a great whisky, it's very different and Japanese, a real tribute to the skill of the Japanese whisky makers. It's not amazing, but very solid and in the high 80s.

Just have to add:

It's a shame this isn't at 47% or higher - this is one of those whiskies that just screams for a higher ABV.

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