The Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt is a tribute to Japan’s whisky God, Masataka Takesuru who helped build the distillery and much of the Japanese whisky landscape we know of today. This pure malt, aka vatted malt or modern day ‘blended malt’ is a marriage of pot stilled malts from its Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries.
The whisky is matured in a combination of European sherry oak, ex-bourbon and american oak barrels for a minimum of three years. The use of Yoichi and Miyagikyo expressions mean you could expect a bit of peat in the mix. And though a Non Aged Statement bottling, the whisky leverages malts of several ages and though there are references of its average age being 10 years; I would highly doubt that now especially considering the distillery has been recently short of whisky supplies, revamping many of their bottlings.
Nose: Barley and vanilla cake, topped with banana slices, red cherries and a caramel drizzle, some wood char and honey is accompanied by hints of cantaloupe, dates and apricots. Earthy and some tart from green apples, you also get a whiff of cocoa powder, tea and cardamom with a sprinkle of green pepper.
Taste: Caramel and cream that gives way to a lovely nuttiness. Tropical nuances emanating from watermelons and peaches with a sherry finish thanks to the European oak maturation. Leather and spice- bits of ginger shavings blended with pepper.
Finish : Stone fruits and vanilla with bits of sun dried tomatoes followed by a mild warmth.
Fruity and sweet on the nose with a pleasant cardamom feel and a subtle but persistent hit of peat lingering on; while evidently fresh and crisp on the palate. As you begin to chew and twirl it around, you notice a mild viscosity that isn’t quite natural for a young spirit. It does however downplay the delicate character I so associate with Japanese whiskies more so on the palate; this one giving more of a Scottish rub. I would think this expression in specific would have been specifically crafted to highlight the soft, subtle and yet complex alchemy of the Orient considering its a commemoration to the late Masataka Taketsuru. I believe it did achieve that lovely play of aromatics and a bounty of a finish but on the mouth it didn’t quite hit my mark. A very enjoyable dram no doubt with a lovely character, just missed my expectations by a bee’s bum!
Preference : Neat or coupled with a dash of water.
FYI – You should probably get your hands on this bottle sooner than latter; especially since the distillery is replacing the current bottling with a newer NAS expression.