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Japan Nikka Distillery

Nikka Miyagikyo

Review of the Nikka Miyagikyo.

Origin: Japan
Type: Single Malt Japanese Whisky
Gradation: 45%ABV
Ageing barrels: Virgin, ex-Sherry, ex-Bourbon
Chillfiltered: Yes
Added coloring: No
Owner: Asahi Breweries
Average price: € 79.00
Official website: www.nikka.com
Vote: 85/100

Miyagikyo is the name of Nikka’s second distillery built in 1969 in the mountains around Sendai, Tohoku, by legendary founder Masakata Taketsuru (find more information in the Yoichi review).
This is a single malt matured without age statement in an unspecified combination of virgin casks, ex-Bourbon, and especially ex-Sherry.
Compared to the Yoichi, it’s minimally peated and is billed as the smooth, fruity flagship in Nikka’s core range.

At bottling, it’s chillfiltered but not coloured, showing up in the glass in a golden yellow guise, slightly less intense than the Yoichi.
The nose actually develops distinct fruity and floral notes: lots of banana, baked apple, muscat grapes, and almond blossom. The base is sweet, young, malty, but of good elegance, with hints of nutmeg, beeswax, barrique, and something balsamic like camphor essential oil that tingles the nostrils. With careful aeration one can also perceive a slight toasted note reminiscent of peanuts, perhaps due to the slight peat or wood from the charred barrels.
On the palate it’s drinkable, almost light, starting with a sweet malt flavour that soon gives way to cinnamon, ginger, aniseed, dehydrated coconut, and a slight oaky tannin on the sides of the tongue.
The finish is soft: tones of wilted flowers, caramelised citrus (cedar), and blond tobacco leaves (Virginia) give a slightly more sustained, bitter touch.

The same applies to the Miyagikyo as to the Yoichi.
It’s undoubtedly a champion of balance and smoothness that cannot fail to be appreciated, but it really is too young and light (and not only compared to the old bottlings).
While it is true that the entire Nikka range has been revised in terms of pleasantness (apart from the From the Barrel), this Miyagikyo is so sedate that if it is not drunk very carefully it almost risks passing unnoticed.
Certainly it will satisfy most, but it will hardly excite like its historic expressions.

Other bottlings in the blog:
Nikka Yoichi

Other perspectives:
Whisky Saga

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