1) The Blend of Nikka Maltbase Whisky (NAS)
Nose: a bit harsh and alcoholic. Dominated by sweeter grain notes. But some good maltiness in the background.
Palate: Better than expected. Quite sweet, very young, and not at all complex.
Finish: Quite long, but harsh and uninteresting.
2) Rare Old Super Nikka Whisky (NAS)
Nose: Noticeably mellower than #1, but still rather uninteresting.
Palate: Caramel, nutty, comes off a bit like the inside of a candy bar.
Finish: Quite long, but again, rather harsh and numbing. Noticeable alcohol.
3) The Suntory Old Whisky
Nose: Quite good. Softly sweet, a bit of toasted marshmallow, and again, caramel.
Palate: Eek, very harsh and alcoholic. Bad surprise.
Finish: Long and dominated by harshness.
4) Suntory Royal 12yo (blend)
Nose: Intense but restrained. Decent complexity. Buttery. Reminds me a bit of old Pulteney. Sweet.
Palate: Nice malty notes and sweetness with a hint of eucalyptus.
Finish: Quite decent, but again a bit numbing.
5) The Hakushu Single Malt Whisky 12yo
Nose: A great pleasure to get into single malt territory. Eucalyptus, apples, mint.
Palate: Flavorful, plenty of candied apples, toffee, pine resin.
Finish: Still a bit harsh, but complex and persistent with a wisp of smoke.
Last night we found a bar downtown with a rooftop lounge that served Nikka Yoichi 12yo. I don't have any formal tasting notes, but I remember thinking that it tasted like a very high quality version of Caol Ila. Incredible nose with restrained barbecued beef smoke and shellfish. Elegant on the palate and persistent finish. Very impressive, especially given the setting.
I'm going to go whisky hunting on Tuesday (it's a holiday weekend here) and see if I can bring home some real rarities.
Suntory Hibiki 17yo - I hadn't heard of this one before, but I pegged it for a blend. It seems that they are doing their best impression of Johnny Walker Gold--and a decent job of it. Not a lot of excitement, but smooth and probably a nice dram for a sunny summer day.
Nikka Taketsuru 21yo (vatting) - This one had a lot of beautiful flavors. Toffee, molasses, resin, good finish. Unfortunately a bit hollow--it was begging for a meaty or fruity core to go along with the dignified complexity.
If you plan to go back to Japan after this trip, have a look at latest Ulf Buxrud book. Japanese whiskies. You should be able to read my review on that book within the next hours on http://www.whisky-news.com
Seems you have already gone back to Rockrige though....Say hello to Mambo for me....and Sheriff Bart.
I also found a nice whisky bar in Shibuya called Bar Moonshine. Excellent selection, including a 1972 G&M CC Ardbeg.
Some pics. The first three are from Bar Moonshiner in Shibuya, the others Hibiki Restaurant in Shinjuku.
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