In a matter of seconds, I had placed an online ‘click and collect’ order for the Coffey malt, knowing availability was thin, I didn’t want to let the opportunity go. It was heavenly bliss that in a matter of seconds was reduced to a glee; not a bad thing but just the dissapointment since I so loved Nikka’s Coffey series. The eyes can deceive and mine did too. What I initially thought to be the Nikka Coffey Malt, was in fact a sibling, distilled to the north of Japan along the coast at Nikka’s Hakkaido distillery.
The Yoichi distillery was built in 1934, by none other than Masataka Taketsuru and remains one of the few distilleries around the world that continue to leverage coal to fire up their potstills. This practise has since been replaced by far more effective methods that offer uniform heat dissipation and possibly better thermal control over the stills. The distillers here however believe this difference and the relatively harsher temperatures breeds a wider spectrum and more favourable set of outcomes to the resulting whisky.
The Yoichi Single Malt in particular was introduced in 2016 and comes sans an aged statement; the expression was brought in as a replacement to their older aged expressions that were starting to dwindle in supply. The whisky is mildly peated and matured in a combination of American oak and sherried casks to provide the desired flavour profile..
Abv : 45%
Eye: Old Gold
Nose : Herbal and peaty with the sweetness of vanilla and short bread. Charred wood coupled with fruits, traces of honey and essential oils that are almost silently stalked by an earthy, medicinal yet sweet floral nuance that lingers along.
Taste : Vanilla and hints of grain, that familiar earthiness and char kicks in with some green pepper trailing behind. There’s a pinch of zest, infused with a whiff of salt, infused with raisins, cantaloupe and fruit.
Finish : Medium | Vanilla with a pleasing woody spice.
The Yoichi though light, is medium bodied with a mild viscosity. On the plus it has a delightful dose of sweetness, a lovely balance of earth and maritime with the peat that is both refreshing and unorthodox for your typical Japanese whisky. However being subtle, also indicates that it lacks a degree of complexity, and isn’t as hearty as I would have expected.
I can’t help but compare this with the Coffey series, though in honesty it isn’t a fair comparison. Maybe a few bits of flavour tucked in between could have overturned this tuple into a stellar dram?! But nevertheless, this NAS whisky is an uncomplicated spirit that breathes freshness and energy with an added twirl of peat. For the price of AUD $130, it is a bit pricey but is still worth the try – a good malt certainly, but one that lacks greatness!