Nose: Off the bat what a stunner. Quite a fruity number in various forms: orange peel, lemon and lime sherbet, banana and pineapple from tinned fruit salad. Peat was evident as well as treacle at various intervals. Certainly oaky (subtle), then musky floral and caramelized sugar. Water brings on mellow mint pattie and dried fruit bread. Not consistent but at various stages blueberry cheese cake and mild bubblegum.
Taste: Creamy vanilla, a tad licorice, and suggestions of mild smoke? There is an abundance of malt along with a nutmeg and cinnamon combo. From here costal honey, toffee, and a bitter sweet note. When diluted the whisky in my opinion goes vegetal - not necessarily bad, but by adding water the palate looses its punch.
Finish: Malty, soft oak, spicy, and reasonably long. Vegetal when diluted.
Comment: The longer its left in the glass magical things begin to happen. I bought this at an ancient mom & pop store, the proprietor mentioned that he had it in his shop for years which prompted me to do a bit of research. According to some, whether true or not, most of the early batch NFTB had no serial numbers on the front label. Apparently many years after Nikka introduced batch numbers - if this is true I guess it just means I have an early circa NFTB. Not really sure why it took me so long to buy my own bottle.
Note: I've heard some people label NFTB as a pure malt, just to clarify this is not the case as the whisky retains grain - naturally making it a blend. Having said that it certainly could be said it tastes like a pure malt.
Very interesting review Clint! Sounds like there are many tastes to discover in this bottle. I've seen it in quite a few stores and been tempted to buy because of the reasonable price and "raw" presentation. Might get a bottle some time soon, though I wonder how newer batches would compare to yours.ReplyDelete
Hi Fredrik, thanks for your kind words. There is an abundance of both aromas and tastes to be had with this expression. I've tried it on many different occasions at various places and each batch variation was satisfying. Some more prominent than others but never once a bad batch run. In my opinion no matter what batch you get each one retains the foundations of NFTB, its just some batches have tweaked a little more the others, this is due to many variants however, I think it's safe to say you won't regret purchasing a bottle. It's one of those kick-starter whiskies that one must have in their cupboard. In regards to comparison (old circa /new batch) I think I'd like to comment once I've got myself a new batch hot of the bottling line to compare. Many characteristics should be persistent throughout, but again, some tweaked a little more than others. And who knows, some new batches may be better than old school versions...time to find out hey. It is a justifiable purchase - happy shopping.ReplyDelete
Hi Clint, I actually went and bought a bottle the day after I read your review and have by now had quite a few drams. I have to say that I have enjoyed every moment. The strength of flavor on both the nose and palate is astounding, and only pleasant aspects of the grain are apparent, like vanilla and brown sugar. If not for those, I could have mistaken it for pure malt as well. I had a hint of plastic in one dram and thought a bad cask or something was coming through, but only had it once so I guess it could have been my glass or something I ate. I also agree completely with your comment about adding water - absolutely not necessary and actually lessens the experience. The taste becomes flatter and vegetal. Even though the alcohol stings when un-diluted, the strength of the flavour makes up for it. This is the only 50%+ whisky I can think of that I have enjoyed more when straight than when diluted. To summarize, I don't regret a single yen spent on this, and will probably get another bottle in the future. And since I probably wouldn't have risked buying without your review, I can only say thanks for sharing your thoughts and helping me discover a new dram! Cheers!Delete
Hi Fredrik, glad to hear of your purchase, it is certainly a bottle purchase that provides bang for buck, and a whisky that always provides good results. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it and agree with your thoughts - this is truly one of very few whiskies at this percent that does not benefit from adding water. I like your description of it becoming 'flat' when doing so. Water certainly decreases the flavour and aroma profile. Lovely isn't it...a whisky at this percentage that can be so velvety and sipped without dilution. I too will be buying another bottle soon as my bottle didn't last that long, for comparison I will try and get one of the most recent batches to see, if any at all, what differences there may be. Thanks for your kind words and I hope my opinions on other reviews will help with contemplating other bottle purchases.Delete
I once avoided it cos I thought it's some weird cheap whisky with some tin cap. but i learnt i can't judge a whisky by its bottle! quite an enjoyable daily dram i must say. and if you live in japan, it's downright affordable.ReplyDelete
Andy that is true - down right affordable for those who live in Japan, the cheapest I have ever seen it was at 1,780 yen. However, for those who unfortunately have to purchase it outside Japan often pay an arm and a leg for NFTB - especially in Europe and Australia as far as I know.Delete
it's about 72 - 75 SGD here in Singapore, about 60 USD. Mostly because of the tax here ...Delete
Thanks for that additional info, interesting to get a perspective of the RRP in other countries. It goes for 70 AUD and I'm pretty sure it is a little more expensive in continental EU.Delete
I picked up two bottles in CDG duty-free for 35 EUR each. Pretty spendy for a 500mL bottle, but I guess that's Paris for ya. Here in Kuala Lumpur, if you can even find it, it runs at least RM200 retail, which is about 46 EUR/63 USD.Delete
Thanks for updating the price points for both CDG duty-free and KL Chad. I'm actually a little surprised that it is hard to find in KL as Nikka from the Barrel is pretty much all over now. It will slowly increase in price in Japan also as there will be yet another tax increase.Delete
The Nikka From The Barrel is one that never disappoints. I use it a lot with people who have never tried Japanese whisky and so far the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. This is very good whisky at an affordable price.ReplyDelete
I agree, Pierre. This is a good introductory whisky for those new to Japanese whisky. Also I think it is a good blend to throw in among single malts to refreshed the palate. What does this expression set you back in Switzerland?Delete
Can be found for less than 20 bucks in Japan and better than 90% of the Karuizawa I've tried. Not all batches are equal but never less than a bank for your buck wonder.ReplyDelete
It certainly can be more appealing than quite a few over priced malts on the market. This whisky is one of very few in the price catogery (under 2,000 yen) that is a good cost performing whisky. I see Dan Murphy's retail it for 70 AUD, am I right in thinking it has only recently made its way to Oz?Delete
Clint, just curious, what other good cost performers do you have in mind?Delete
Hi Andy, well quite a few. It all depends on price catogery. Concentrating on 4,000 yen and under I'd have to say a few familiars with the addition of some new expressions to the circuit. I have mentioned a few of these before in my post "stocking your bar with affordable Japanese whiskies" - in no particular order:Delete
- Nikka Date
- Mars IWAI Tradition Wine Cask Finish
- Miyagikyo NAS single malt
- Black Nikka Rich Blend
- Nikka Pure Malt Black
- Yamazaki NAS single malt
- Taketsuru 12yo pure malt
- Taketsuru NAS sherry wood finish
Before compiling the above I made a rule that the whiskies must be or recently have been on the local market, unfortunately a few of the above cannot be had out side Japan unless purchased on the resale market.
Of course I could mention a few more but the above represent exceptional quality on both palate and nose. Outstanding profiles and extremely affordable.Delete
Thanks for the share! I'd love to get my hands on the NAS sherry wood finish, but as with most sherry wood bottlings, they're so limited! Might have to see if the kind folks at the LMDW here would bring it in.Delete