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Nikka Yoichi Single Malt

Average score from 6 reviews and 9 ratings 85

Nikka Yoichi Single Malt

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Nikka Yoichi Single Malt

Due to a shortage of Japanese whisky, Nikka withdrew all age statement off the market. Hence Yoichi and Miyagikyo are now released as NAS bottlings. This bottle has been around for a while and is the predecessor to today’s bottlings that appear at 45% in 70cl bottles as of the end of 2015. The rather closed nose offers up some yellow fruit (banana, mirabelles and citrus), but also the typical forest scents I have come to associate with Yoichi. Think ferns, decomposing wood and blossoms. Then a good dollop of honey and a little bit of peat. It has some Turkish Delight, which comes a bit as a surprise. I don’t think I have discovered that in a Japanese whisky before. Pity, but the body really leaves a lot to be desired. This is watery, just shy of oily. It could do with a little more. On the palate it is all about honey and spices, but with a nice uppercut of sweet peat, delivering some smoke. Loads of vegetal notes like roots. Midpalate, the oak does turn it a tad bitter; That bitterness is continued in the rather short finish, making that the least interesting part of this dram. I fear my expectations for this Japanese single malt were too high, for I am left slightly disappointed.


I opened one of my bottles and had a dram. I suspect like most whiskies what I write now will be amendable after I get further down and more air finds it way into the bottle. Thus, the following nosing/tasting are from the first dram after opening.

Before Adding Water


Very light peat (faint) smoke/leather (similar to Taketsuru 17yo but not at the same level) Fall leaves and late summer/fall flowers Hint of sweetness - vanilla /cooked sugar Ripe fruits - citrus (a touch of sour)


Faint hint of peat/smoke and leather Nut - mixed Fresh on the palate

After a little water


Ripe fruits (sour) still there (but faint) Nuttiness comes out more Light smoke/peat (more faint now) Less floral (takes a big back seat for me)


Hint of spice Oak (appears) And what was mentioned earlier

A few comments about this NAS SMW: 1. Don't expect this to be identical to any Aged Statements 2. It keeps many of the Yoichi characteristics, but they are all subtle. 3. In other words, there is no one dominant flavor that stands out. 4. Thus, the layering of flavors makes you work at it all and it is a fun adventure. 5. This is a whisky which needs a lot of time. I spent 30 minutes on it and that is because I wanted to get a comment out here as soon as I could. I am guessing time, like most SMWs will allow the exploration to be much greater for the experience.

In this NAS SMW. It might not be what Yoichi lovers want, but I am not at all disappointed.


This is the new 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 Yoichi core range, i.e. the 10-, 12-, 15- and 20-year old expressions. (Nikka’s other distillery, Miyagikyo, faces exactly the same situation.) This review refers to a 500ml bottle that I picked up while on holiday in Japan.

The nose is quite light and thin. Flavours of honey, grapefruits and lemons come to the fore, together with a touch of balsamic vinegar. I also got notes of nuts and cereal. Hmm, where is the peat?

The palate is light-bodied and smooth. Now there are oranges and more lemons, mingling with soft wood spice and more nuts. At the end I detected a whiff of menthol.

The finish is of medium length and pleasantly mouth watering. Lemon and nuts flavours are back, together with some menthol at the very end.

This reminded me of the Nick Offerman sketch “That's not Lagavulin!”. Never, ever would I detect this as a Yoichi in a blind tasting. Where has the subtle peat smoke gone, where are the adorable cinnamon and rubber flavours? This is not Yoichi! I give Nikka credit for bottling this at 45% ABV, and if it were not for the rather thin nose I would actually call this a pleasant single malt as both palate and finish were quite nice. Time will tell whether Nikka will be successful with this new standard expression – unfortunately, this does not really work for me.

I share your view, @MaltActivist. At least Nikka were honest enough to inform the larger public about the state of their whisky stocks. As for Suntory... I was at Yamazaki distillery in October and the 18-year old was not available for sale (and the 12-year old was "strictly 1 bottle per custoer")! But when I asked I did not get any specific reply as to the state of things. Very disappointing, when everybody knows that their stocks must be super low by now.

Thanks for the review! Yes, rather upset at this whole NAS debacle. Seems like the same (taste deterioration) is happening over at Suntori as well...


Nikka has entered the market with NAS bottlings from their two whisky distilleries. This is part two covering Yoichi. Sold in a 500ml bottle and a very cheap ¥1600. The labelling is simple yet effective with white labels with black printed Kanji and Katakana, the edge of the substrate looks torn and homely.

In my opinion, Yoichi is Nikka’s rising star. I am excited to see if this small bottle can deliver on the Yoichi name. A big ask for such a small price tag. So I am sitting here in my hotel room in Shinjuku. You are wondering, does it contain those big salty, floral and gentle peat notes that Yoichi has become famous for?

Nose: black peppercorns, peat, apples, sherbet

Taste: green apples, banana, vanilla, cashews, brown sugar, aniseed, honey

Finish: gentle peat on the tail end.

You are not getting those big Yoichi flavours in here. But, you are still getting a good introduction to the distilleries style. The nose really is the strong point here. A good balanced whisky that serves as a good introduction to the distillery and smashing value for the price.

Ooooh good memories, I loved this one. Dangerously easy to drink

So, this one having no age statement, there is a chance that it may continue to be available for sale in the future...in Japan, anyway.

@PeatyZealot, nice endorsement!


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!

@Frost, many thanks for your comment. I would definitely give this a try. It is a good entry malt into Yoichi distillery's core range. @hunggar: I reviewed the Miyagikyo NAS in January 2013 and liked it almost as much as the Yoichi bottling. Perhaps the Yoichi is a tad more complex than the Miyagikyo. It is interesting that I can get both expressions in Switzerland although here they go for 50 US$ each. More expensive than in Japan but still good value for money, in my opinion.

@Pierre_W Thank you for the insightful review. I am really curious about this NAS expression from Yoichi.


Superb. Complex. Alcohol noticeable on the unreduced nose. Figs, toffee, caramel, honey and Madeira wine. Oily and complex. 18 yo not sure but Bourbon style finish.

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