An Evening with Nikka Japanese Whisky in Downtown Los Angeles in Partnership with BourbonBlog
Disembarking the Metro 16 bus at 6th and Broadway, I confusedly walked up and down broadway trying to orient myself, and thrice had to turn around because I was going the wrong direction (or so I thought). I finally found my destination after about 10 minutes of trying to figure out where the heck it was, Kai Japanese Roots a fairly new sushi and japanese restaurant located in the Spring Arcade Building. This evening, in addition to our Nikka Japanese Whisky tasting, there was a tap takeover for Angel City Brewery; slight side note a tap takeover is when all of a bar’s taps for draught beer are changed out to different beers from a single brewery. As I was early, I decided to indulge in a beer whilst waiting to speak to our presenter for the evening, Mr. Jonathan Kleinbart.
Shortly after I made my introduction, our tasting began. The evening’s lineup was stellar and included almost their entire commercially available range. The Coffey grain, Coffey malt, Miyagikyo, Pure Malt aka Nikka Taketsuru named after Maketsaka Taketsuru the founder of Nikka Whisky and formerly one of the men behind Whisky at Suntory, and the Nikka Yoichi. Each whisky was excellently paired with dish from Kai’s kitchen. Ben and his team did an excellent job of balancing the flavours!
Coffey Grain: Now many of you may wonder why and how they made a whisky with Coffee but I assure you it’s not what you think. This is named after the type of still they used, also known as column still, continuous still or Coffey still named after Irishman Aeneas Coffey who is credited with the invention of this new type of distillation, versus the pot still. The Coffey Grain is Nikka’s best seller in the US, and uses 97% corn (thus Grain instead of malt), and the other 3% is Malted Barley, compared to the rest of their lineup that uses malted barley.
- Nose: A viscous sweetness with maple, that is slightly reminiscent of Crown Royal. It’s a buttery and butterscotch-y nose with a light and subtle creaminess.
- Flavour: Sweet with a very slight hint of watermelon, followed by butter, toffee, caramel and some mellow pepper, which was likely just the alcohol on my tongue. It finished smooth with a slight creaminess.
Coffey Malt: The Coffey Grain was 100% grain, this release is 100% malted barley. Consider the two siblings.
- Nose: Graham crackers, sweet but mellow popcorn, there were also some notes of sweetened sushi rice.
- Flavour: A mellow sweetness comprised of sweetened sushi rice, and a long finish on the back of the palate, as well as some fruitiness similar to a scotch.
Taketsuru Pure Malt: Named after the father of Japanese whisky Masataka Taketsuru, this is a pure pot still malt whiskey that is essentially a “mix” between the Nikka Yoichi and Miyagikyo
- Nose: A mellow woodiness on the front of the nose, follow by a subtle sweetness with some fruit notes, particular apples and cherries.
- Flavour: Very warm, with a slight peatiness at the front of the palate. Mellow flavours of wood and almost earthy. A hot and abrasive whisky, not smooth at all.
Miyagikyo: Steam fired for easy temperature control, and aged in sherry barrels.
- Nose: Sweet with an aroma that is reminiscent of Sake, corn, and brown sugar. It’s got some buttery aromas, with either a rice wine or rice vinegar aroma, hard to tell which.
- Flavour: A sweet, slight peaty flavour with a long finish of warm sugar and peat that has mellowed. The Miyagikyo has a slight saltiness to it.
Yoichi: Direct coal fired, this is another of their Single Malt expressions.
- Nose: Not a whole lot to pick up on the nose for this expression, I found breakfast cereal and a very mellow aroma of peat smoke.
- Flavour: Sweet with some grain flavours, and mellow sherry as well as some breakfast cereals. There was also subtle flavours of char ending in a medium finish. It was quite a nice and smooth whiskey.
Nikka is one of many brands that is gaining wide spread popularity and success thanks to the rise of whisky coming from Asia, particularly Japanese single malt whisky. It’s delicious and I can’t wait to have a bottle of my own! Thank you very much to the Ben and the entire team at Kai Japanese Roots for hosting this wonderful tasting.