Nikka 12 is a fantastic 12-year-old blended Japanese whisky from Nikka presented in a bottle that takes its design from the neckline of a kimono. Nikka 12 blend contains a base of Coffey grain whisky and malt whiskies from both Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries. This bodes well for the final product, as long as care was taken in the cask selections.
Nose: Butterscotch, poached pears, toffee apples, nougat and nutmeg. One can smell the sweet corn syrup note of the Nikka Coffey Grain, but with even more caramel and vanilla now. Definitely, a malty aroma as well, reflecting the malt whisky component. Some lighter fruits, like pear and green apple. Also detect a light smokey note, similar to the old Taketsuru 12.
Palate: Buttery oak, rounded malt, a touch of leather and a hint of smoke. The Coffey Grain definitely takes a back seat here – a lot of woody and malt characteristics, with enhanced caramel/vanilla flavours up-front. These are balanced by a slight bitterness, and something slightly tannic, like black tea. Nice rich texture and mouthfeel, very creamy. There is a definite spicy/peppery component. The smoke re-appears at the end and literally wafts up the back of your throat as you swallow.
Finish: Moderately long, with lingering cinnamon and cloves. There is both a subtle sweetness and bitterness to the finish – like candied ginger.
What some of our whisky enthusiast friends have said about Nikka 12
Quote 1 “Full-bodied, pleasant oak, rich, fruity (Apple), cream, vanilla and caramel with a touch of peat which gives it a salty/savoury flavour. The flavour profile is quite similar to Highland Park 12 but richer in flavour and taste. Amazing for a blended whisky to be as rich and flavorful as a single malt Scotch. Easily blows away any blended scotch at 12 years old. It’s even way better than Dewars 15 which is watery, spirity and lacks flavour and complexity. Had this for less than 5000 yen and absolutely worth it for that price. Too bad this whisky is overpriced outside of Japan.”
Quote 2 “Really!? What are they up to? I don’t drink blended whisky (occasional exception for the Chivas Regal 18 yr old). Oscar (great guy, runs my favourite liquor store, insists on sharing his “enthusiasm” even at 10 a.m.) twisted my arm with a free sample. Bought a bottle straight off. There’s a big dash of Yoichi in here so there is a nice, warming hint of peat. Not so much peat that it blots out the delightful tropical fruit though. Toasty, oaky, warm and creamy, butterscotch toffee and smooooooooooth. Honestly, if you didn’t know, you’d never guess it was a blended whisky. This is a new permanent fixture in my collection.”