The seven swordsmen – may they be ronins or samurai – drank usually sake, but I think these days they might just turn into Japanese whiskies. I’ve encountered these oddities now and then, but it has never been a suitable place to really taste one or two. Japanese whiskies have not impressed me in bars, so I have been keeping my distance with these. Until, I got a souvenir from a friend, who kindly helped me to remedy the case. So, this was actually my first, real, tasting of a Japanese dram. Some might argue, that the travel retail version is not the best one to start with.. But that is the order of things this time. So I decided to go and give Nikka Whisky from the Barrel a try.
The specs are.. From the Barrel contains both malt and grain whisky, which makes this a blended drink. It has a nice boost in it (51.4%) so it will keep you warm during the winter time.
Let’s start with the neck and the cap. A real short neck and a screw cap. This is not the most usual way to package whisky. And it had lots of plastic around the cap, so you almost need a Hanzo blade to cut through. Once you get through that obstacle, it is time to face level 2 which main opponent is the infamous Spill the Table! I got through that one with a nice smooth move, but I can imagine the first try is going to spill very often. The good side, is that bottle is very compact and thus makes it a nice traveling companion.
The nose is strong. For me, it reminded of a cognac more than whisky. It is unusual. It is not whisky. If I were to give points in these, this would not get them.
The palate takes some time to adjust. Strong. Check. Sherry. Check. Spice. Check. Booze. Check. Can you drink it? Check. This is like a haiku told aloud at the busy shopping center during Black Friday. Sure, there is something very appealing in it, but something just don’t match. The spice actually is the big thing here, after a while it starts forming the oak and spice mix that is very strong and very tasty. Sweet, yes, but it also has a real good sherry spice combo that cuts through the resisting peasant.
And that spiciness continues, for a real long and lasting finish. I found out that even 10-15 minutes after sipping the last drop it was on. Spice is the key, and it flows like on Arrakis. Fruits, yes, but overall.. The best part of this whisky is the finish.
This whisky is not balanced nor it is easy. The spice makes it easier to drink in a bar or perhaps to mix it into a drink. But it is whisky, that has character which comes out in the end. Not bad, and a lot better than I expected. It is good to be wrong.