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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. Interestingly, the distillery continues to use coal to direct fire its pot stills, a method that Masataka Taketsuru originally learned in Scotland (and that has now almost disappeared out there).
The nose is delightfully rich and fruity. It starts off with vanilla and honey flavours, followed by banana, fudge, hints of sherry and a rich maltiness. Very light smoke lingers in the background.
The palate is medium-bodied and mouth-filling with vanilla, honey and syrupy flavours taking centre stage. Some salt and hints of soap are there, too, followed by light smoke. Towards the end a tannic dryness slowly manifests itself.
The finish is of medium length and dry. Both smoky and malty elements are there, followed by minty sweetness.
I am very, very much impressed by this no age statement single malt. The nose is very rich and fruity, the palate is both complex and sweet, and the finish is satisfyingly long. And light smoke underpins it all. Even for a single malt with an age statement that would be quite an assessment, but for a NAS one? The 500ml bottle that I picked up at a super market in Japan cost me about 1,600 yen (about 11 Euros or 16 US dollars). This is too good to be true – was there ever better value for money?!? If you see a bottle, grab it!