While most people equate single malt or single barrel whisky with being the cream of the crop, blended whisky is actually the most common as well as most consumed whisky in the world. And to taste some of the finest in blended malt whisky, look no further than the Japanese whisky distillers. Today were taking a look at the 21yr bottling.
The Nikka Whisky Distilling Co is one of the premier distillers in Japan and has a superb line of blended malts named after the founder Masataka Taketsuru. The Taketsuru blends come from distillates from both the Yoichi Distillery (located on the northern island of Hokkaido), and the Miyagikyo Distillery (located in the north of the main island Honshu).
Nose: Plenty of oak influence with notes of prunes, dates and apricots. Definitely some sweetness, anise,
Palate: Spices, black pepper, bitter orange, loads of tangy sherry. Gives way to some ginger, honey, and hints of marmalade.
Finish: Long, oak and spice, balanced with a hint of peat.
If the question is “What do the Japanese not do well?”, the answer is for sure not whisky. Every single malt spirit that I have tried from this country has been unique and of the utmost quality. One of the newest releases out there is the Hakushu Heavily Peated Whisky (2013 bottling), which hails from the Hakushu Distillery, located deep in the forests of the Southern Japanese Alps, where it seeks to take advantage of the clear air and cool, humid climate of Hakushu’s vast forests.
Nose: Gentle smokiness, a slight brininess mixed with pepper and sweet lemon.
Palate: An understated but bold hit of wood smoke, with a brown-sugar sweetness. Salt and pepper, sweet grain and roasted pear. Really clean and dry flavors.
Finish: Salted barley with just a really gently smoked flavor that is super subtle and expertly balanced.
Limited to just 3000 bottles, this is a whisky worth seeking out for fans of Japanese Whisky, as well as scotch lovers.
An odd variation on a sour, this cocktail combines a base spirit, orange liqueur, and citrus. It doesn’t really stand out, taste wise, but what it lacks in the flavor department, it makes up for with it’s looks.
Extra points to whoever can tell me where the name from the following cocktail originates. Also, sadly I am proved mistaken in my assumption that no real cocktails use blue curacao. I was wrong and will humbly reinstate my bottle back to the shelves of the liquor cabinet, rather than being buried in a box on the floor of my garage.
The Leatherneck Cocktail
2 oz Blended Whisky
3/4 oz Blue Curacao
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1 tsp Raspberry Syrup
This drink is a great twist on the classic sour formula. The less tart grapefruit provides the sour, but not overwhelmingly so, and the raspberry syrup adds the sweet. At first glance, I was a little apprehensive about the fruit combinations, however it turned out to work pretty well.
The secret, I think, is in the juice. For my first attempt at this drink, I went with a white grapefruit juice because that it was I had sitting around the house. It made a decent drink, but lacked that “sparkle” that I think pink grapefruit would provide. All in all a pretty decent cocktail, and one that I will probably add to my whiskey based list.
For the raspberry syrup, (which can be hard to find by the way) I used Smucker’s Red Raspberry Syrup. It has a great taste and viscosity, which works great in cocktails. It is available in my area at Fred Meyer stores.