Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Back to Basics (1): Nikka Malt Club 40% abv

Every year, both domestically and internationally, a bountiful volume of Japanese whisky hits the market. Some releases can be extremely limited in outturn (but affordable), while certain brands can be particularly expensive to those with a limited budget. That, plus there are the "Japan only bottlings" that make it extraordinary hard for enthusiasts outside Japan to obtain - naturally this can be quite frustrating for some. What could also be equally curbing, perhaps, is when you, the reader, see reviews of "unattainable whiskies" for what ever the reason. As a purchaser, consumer, and reviewer of Japanese whisky it's easy to forget about the more attainable whiskies. This got me thinking. Refocus my attention for a short while and return to the simple principles of everyday Japanese whisky: extremely affordable, general, and readily available in most places, allowing most people the opportunity to buy, try, and relate to reviews. This mini series: Back to Basics, will explore mainstream mass produced brands that everyone can hopefully enjoy. To kick-off the series Whiskies R Us will start with a familiar favourite among some of you - Nikka Malt Club.

Nose: Young, light, but clean and fresh. Light blueberry muffins and/or cheesecake. Mellow purple grape bubblegum. In my opinion it smells a lot like the Hokkaido 12yo pure malt. There is a very high portion of Yoichi going on here (again, just an opinion) - young Yoichi but pleasant. But thers's no mistaking the Miyagikyo over time with the lovely Pineapple lollies (Allen's). I would be lying if I said there were no solvents present - floor wax perhaps. This batch/bottle has the tinniest hint of peat is naturally malty.

Taste: Relatively smooth, peppery, young, border line watery - but with a dominant mixture of herb leaf and the smallest hint of licorice. Cinnamon and nutmeg on the spice front - small resemblance of cinnamon sweet mustard (savron). Envelope glue. Then, nuts. Although this contains no grain whisky it has characteristics of grain whisky - this is emphasized with water therefore, none needed.

Finish: Light herbs and spices. Moderate with pepper/salt. Malty with a bit of a grapefruit peel feel.

Comment: Fairly simple straight up whisky but extremely affordable and well worth the measily 1180 yen. Not a lot of punch but certainly nothing worth complaining about. I prefer this as a highball than neat.

Take a look at what goes into the Malt Club (here).


  1. It's nice that you started a series about bottom-of-the-shelf Japanese whiskies, but will you also be reviewing the Japanese Scotch Malt Whisky Society releases? That's something I am waiting for.

    1. As you most likely know Andy you need membership to obtain any SMWS bottlings, unfortunately I don't, and I don't intend on getting one at this stage. However, that dose not mean I will not have an opportunity. Either I will put in with friends who have membership, and if lucky get something. If not... well, I will just have to settle for a few drams at a bar. Lets see what happens. Cheers.