“The Nikka” 12 Year Old Premium Blended Whisky comes in a snazzy presentation decanter with higher-end packaging. From what little I can find online, the Nikka 12 Year Old Blended contains a base of Coffey grain whisky, and malt whiskies from both Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries. This bodes well for the final product,
Well, that was a pleasant relief – this is a nicely constructed blend. In many ways, it seems like a combination of the old Taketsuru 12 Year Old and the Nikka Coffey Grain – but with some new spicier notes thrown in, I’m glad to find it retains the light smokey characteristics of the Yoichi malt.
Nose: I can detect the sweet corn syrup note of the Nikka Coffey Grain, but with even more caramel and vanilla now. Definitely a malty aroma as well, reflecting the malt whisky component. Some lighter fruits, like pear and green apple. I also detect a light smokey note, similar to the old Taketsuru 12 Year Old. A very faint solvent smell, but less than I detected on the Coffey Grain. A nice nose, to be sure.
Palate: The Coffey Grain definitely takes a back seat here – I get a lot of woody and malt characteristics, with enhanced caramel/vanilla flavours up-front. These are balanced by a slight bitterness, and something slightly tannic, like black tea. Nice rich texture and mouth feel, very creamy. There is a definite spicy/peppery component that I wasn’t expecting. The smoke re-appears at the end, and literally wafts up the back of your throat as you swallow.
Finish: Moderately long, with lingering cinnamon and cloves. There is both a subtle sweetness and bitterness to the finish – like candied ginger. If I have any complaint here it is that the flavours are a bit muddled when the smoke clears from the palate – but at least it has a finish (unlike the entry-level Taketsurus, which rapidly disappear).