If you live in the States, you'd be hard pressed to find Nikka Whisky From The Barrel. Although the Japanese whiskey brand has six other expressions in the American market (all worth exploring), this particular blend hasn't made its way to bars and liquor stores yet—though you can get it online for shipment globally. We crossed its path at Cape Town, South Africa's Kyoto Garden Sushi, and were immediately taken with the malt and grain whisky marriage, the result of recasking the two independent spirits and then immediately bottling the union afterward. It's got some winter spice, hints of vanilla oakiness and a lot of powerful flavor.
Nikka Whisky From The Barrel maintains 51.4% alcohol content, lending a potency only matched by the taste. There are hints of peat and even dried pear. It's altogether well-balanced and fits nicely in the Nikka roster of highly awarded spirits (distributed by Anchor Distilling Company in the US). Nikka’s founder, Masataka Taketsuru, is considered the grandfather of Japanese whisky. From a family of sake brewers, he went on to study organic chemistry at the University of Glasgow and followed that with apprenticeships at local distilleries in Scotland. Returning to Japan in 1920, he was recruited to Japanese brand Kotobukiya (now Suntory). After 10 years developing and producing Japan's first whisky, Taketsuru left to build the Yoichi distillery in Hokkaido, where Nikka was born in 1934. Hard as it might be to come by in person, it's definitely worth pursuing.
You can purchase Nikka Whisky From The Barrel online for $52.
Images courtesy of Whisky Pictures