Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nikka: Long Lost Malts of the 80s

The 12 year old single malt "Hokkaido" (pictured bottom right corner of advertisement), which is now fairly rare to come across in Japan made its debut nationwide in the early 80s (around 83-84). The expression was released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Nikka Whisky Distilling Company (currently owned by Asahi Breweries). The bottling, which naturally contains 100% malt distilled at Yoichi is not only nostalgic but it retains an interesting story behind the actual bottle itself. 

According to Nikka the glass decanter for the 12yo Hokkaido single malt was originally designed and manufactured for another Nikka whisky brand however, that intended bottle didn't sell. It was here that Nikka decided to put the surplus to good use by bottling something "better"and "interesting" resulting in the above. The malt hit the market with a price tag of 12,000 yen (yearly limited release of 10,000 bottles), and it appears at the time of release it wasn't as popular as Nikka expected it to be - if only they knew how sought after it is today. 

The follow up to this expression using the same name and age statement respectively was a "pure malt" containing malt from both the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries that is equally rarely seen in shops today. I secured, purchased, consumed, and reviewed (on paper) the Hokkaido 12yo pure malt but for reasons I don't know myself I never got around to posting it... unfortunately I cannot find my hand written notes therefore the only way I will be sharing my thoughts on this will be to buy another bottle. Until then take a look at two alternate reviews at Whisky Connosr (here) and The Japanese Whisky Review (here).


  1. Interesting post, Clint. 12,000 yen strikes me as being a lot for a 12-year old. Also, I find the words "rare" and "old" on the label odd, given that this is a... 12-year old. Maybe that's where their marketing strategy backfired?

  2. Hi Pierre, I agree. 12,000 yen for a 12yo, especially at the time (before the bubble?) is a lot. Also we could safely say that in the 80s domestic whisky had strong competition with Scotch that could have been purchased for a lot lesser, not in all circumstances but most. Therefore, I can see where it may have been hard for Nikka to create demand for this at the time. Different story now however. i believe I have seen this on the resale market for much more. Many Nikka afficiandos, or should I say hardcore Nikka collectors always rave about it. Btw: your comment prompted me to add your review along with Brian's - hope that is fine with you?