Not many know about it, but Nikka has a small collection of flavor specific whiskies. They used to be known as the Key Malts but they have recently been rebranded and repackaged. We reviewed one of the expressions (Woody and Vanillic) earlier here.
Today we are going to visit two more from this series. This time we are going to give each of our impressions. Although we tasted these together, we each took notes separately and didn’t discuss the whisky until after we finished with our notes.
Single Coffey Grain
This whisky is a single grain that was distilled using a Coffey Still. It was aged 12 years and is bottled at 55% ABV.
Color: Medium amber and orange
Nose: Surprising alcohol burn up front, sweet grain, oddly enough a lot of bourbon notes, licorice and vanilla.
Palate: As expected the grain sweetness, cereal, decent middle tongue heat.
Finish: Medium on strong cereal notes and grain.
Comments: A nice grain whisky, a lot livelier than I expected, not the smooth mild grain whisky that I experienced with the Suntory Chita Single Grain.
As always, I must confess up front that I like Nikka’s style. I’ve pretty much enjoyed anything above their 7-11 grade whiskies (and at times, I’ve enjoyed those as well). The Coffey Still’s color, like its name, intrigued me. It was a light gold but with a shadowy tone shifting about. The nose came on sweet and hot with caramel and salt. No hiding the elevated heat here. The body was sweet grain and aged rum that graduated to toffee and chocolate. The flavors stuck around with an addition of a chewy spice. A quickly satisfying whisky with a solid tail.
Peaty and Salty
This whisky is also aged for 12 years and is bottled at 55% ABV. I wish there were more details on this whisky – cask type, type of barley, ect.
Color: Burnt orange
Nose: Peat right up front, woody
Palate: Ashy peat, the expected salt – almost too much for me, strong wood/oak presence, drying, musty wood, some dark spices
Finish: Medium, peaty and dry
Comments: Straight forward and delivers as advertised from the name. It tasted like a pumped up Laphroaig 10 with more heat and with some of the blanks filled in. Good solid whisky.
The appropriately named Peaty and Salty. Indeed, it is peaty and salty from nose to tail. I don’t think there was ever a more appropriately named whisky. Bronze and copper, the nose is peaty and salty. And perhaps a little apple snuck in there. The body starts out with some peaty and, yes, salty flavors. And a little vegetation. The peat shifts gears and takes on a smokier profile and settles into a dusty char. The salt takes on a sweet edge and then reasserts itself. Then these new angles on peaty and salty have a prolonged engagement in your mouth. A reserved and reliable presence. You can taste the attention to detail. A lot of skill, technique and control were employed in making this whisky. No surprises, no unexpected turn of events (for better or worse). It is peaty and salty and good.