The 40th NBA (Nippon Bartenders Association) "Cocktail Competition" in Osaka took place on February 24, at the Argo Hotel in Sakai City. Emphasis on the event is pretty self explanatory - who could make the best bar cocktails. Specialists from various famed bars throughout Kansai: Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, and Wakayama went head to head on the day. The annual event had a total of 16 mixologists strutting their stuff and naturally competing against one another to see who would be crowned the NBA "Cocktail Champion".
Very interesting stuff, and well done to all the entrants, however, I was not there to primarily watch the cocktail action - I was there for the 30 some what stalls, brands, and makers in the adjacent room, which were exhibiting what is currently on offer and what will become on offer in the spirits world.
Besides the abundance of lustful Scotch and fancy assorted spirits there was not a lot on offer on the domestic spirit front. In fact at this NBA event, which strays away from your typical whisky festival, Nikka were the only players to show their face - with something well worth mentioning: Taketsuru 12-year-old "Sherry Wood Finish". Not completely new as this interesting whisky debuted at the "Ginza x Taketsuru Night" in 2012. It may have made an appearance on the night but it never made it on the shelf for consumers and it is yet to do so, but this is all about to change.
According to Nikka (Asahi) brand ambassador this 43% ABV Sherry Wood expresion will be joining Nikka's portfolio permanently mid-year (2013). The reasonably interesting new expresion to the line-up, with evident (obvious) dry sherry on both the palate and nose, was finished for roughly one year in the Sherry Cask (unfortunately I did not confirm whether it was a first or second-fill butt). The price will naturally be more expensive than the standard Taketsuru 12-year-old, however, according to the big guns it will not break the bank and most likely will have an increase of 1,000 yen. In my opinion this is justifiable and will satisfy all hardcore Nikka fans. Stay tuned for more news to come when it presents itself.