Distiller: Nikka. ABV: 45%. No age statement. Grain bill: undisclosed. Price: $60-70
Grain whisky gets a bad rap among single malt lovers, since it’s seen as–and often is–the cheap neutral column-distilled spirit that fills out many Canadian whiskies and blends like lower-end Johnnie Walker, leaving them (by comparison with single malts) thin, bland, and more redolent of flavored vodka than the stuff we love.
But more and more, there are great grains out there, and Nikka’s Coffey Grain Whisky is one of them.
“Coffey” refers to the continuous still it’s made in, named after Aeneas Coffey, the man who patented it. The juice itself is full of flavor: a nose and palate of spicy vanilla bean, coconut, buttered sweet potato, and candied citrus. Full mouthfeel and a quick finish–with a touch of roasted coffee bean that seems like an accidental tip of the hat to the whisky’s namesake.
Whisky Advocate called it “the gold standard of grain,” and K&L Wines called it “perhaps the best grain whisky” on the U.S. market. I call it a great change of pace from a brilliant Japanese whisky distiller–one I’m glad is more readily available on the U.S. market all the time.
Kanpai, friends! -BO