Distiller: Nikka. ABV: 43%. Age: 17 years. Blended malt. Price: $180+.
The Nikka Taketsuru 17 is so silky, I want to call it a dessert dram–but what that often means is cloyingly sweet and unbalanced. This is anything but.
The Taketsuru line is Nikka’s homage to its founder Masataka Taketsuru, who traveled to Scotland in 1918 to learn the art of whisky distilling at the feet of the masters. He returned to Japan with a degree in organic chemistry from the University of Glasgow, world of knowledge from internships at Longmorn and Hazelburn, and a Scottish bride.
The Nikka Taketuru 12 was a brilliant staple Japanese malt–until it was discontinued in 2015. Fortunately the no-age-statement Taketsuru Pure Malt that replaced it is every bit a worthy (and well distributed) successor.
Which brings us to the Taketsuru 17. The older Japanese malts are harder to find than ever these days, and often prohibitively expensive when you can find them. But let’s say you get lucky and find a bar with a dram at a reasonable price (I’m looking at you, Morrison Pub LA). Is it worth the splurge?
The 17 is sweet, yes, in a custardy creme brulée way, but balanced with faint smoke, substantial malt, and roasted nuts. It unfolds slowly and beautifully, with new layers of dried fruits, baking spice, and frangrant oak emerging bit by bit.
The younger Taketsurus have a certain wildness–not a bad thing at all–but that’s been fully tamed here. The 17’s all luxurious refinement. It asks for a patient approach and rewards it.
Kanpai, friends! – BO