[Review] Nikka Session

Nikka

Nikka’s first new brand in six years, Nikka Session.
Launched on September 29, 2020. Limited to 50,000 cases (700ml x 12 bottles) in the first year.

A premium whisky with a completely new concept, blended with high-quality malt raw materials from Scotland and Japan.
The whisky should be so delicious that even old whisky fans will be captivated.
Dare to try it with blended malt without grain.
This was the beginning of the challenge.

I found a hint in the combination of Scottish malt and Japanese malt.
The fruity and mellow Ben Nevis from the Highlands, and a variety of Scottish malts that bloom with a gorgeous aroma.
Then there is the full-bodied Miyagikyo malt and the powerful Yoichi malt.
The richly unique malts met and a stunning performance began.

1. Maker

Nikka Whisky Co.

Establishment1934 (Showa 9)
Head office location4-31, Minami-Aoyama 5-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8616, Japan
Owned distilleriesYoichi Distillery, Miyagikyo Distillery, Ben Nevis Distillery

2. Distillery

Pure malt (blended malt) whisky made from 100% malt raw materials. In addition to Yoichi Distillery and Miyagikyo Distillery, the two pillars of Nikka, Scottish malt raw materials including Ben Nevis Distillery in the Scottish Highlands are also blended.

The blending was done by Yuji Onagawa, the chief blender.
Yuji Onagawa, the chief blender, said, “Let’s blend Scottish and Japanese malts without any preconceived ideas. If we do that, we will be able to create a truly delicious whisky. With that in mind, we repeated trial and error.”

Yoichi Distillery

Address 7-6 Kurokawa-cho, Yoichi-cho, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido 046-0003, Japan
Start of operation 1936

Yoichi Distillery in Hokkaido is known as the Scotland of Japan. It was established in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru, also known as Masan, whose predecessor was Dainippon Fruit Juice Co. Masataka Taketsuru believed that a place with Cool and humid climate, rich water source and clear air Masataka Taketsuru chose Yoichi, located at the base of the Shakotan Peninsula, west of Otaru, from among various candidate sites. Masataka Taketsuru’s goal for his first distillery was to create a heavy and powerful malt whisky. He was determined to replicate the whisky-making methods he had learned at the distilleries of Scotland, without compromise. The symbol of this dedication is the “ Straight head type pot still The symbol of this dedication is the use of ” coal ” and ” direct coal fire distillation. The result is a heavy, fragrant, heavily peaty raw material that produces a unique single malt with the aroma of peat and a touch of saltiness. This distillation method is based on the method used at Longmorn Distillery, where Taketsuru himself studied. If it is necessary to make real whisky, we will protect it even if it is inefficient. Such passion, which can be said to be the origin of Nikka Whisky, and Masataka Taketsuru’s dream have been handed down to this day.

Click here for the official website of Yoichi Distillery

For more information on the Yoichi Distillery, please also see this article.

Miyagi Gorge Distillery

Location 1 Nikka, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, 989-3433, Japan
Start of operation 1969

It has been about 30 years since the first distillery was started in Yoichi, Hokkaido. Masataka Taketsuru, who believed that “whisky becomes richer and more flavorful when it is blended with raw materials from different distilleries,” desperately needed a second distillery. Taketsuru chose Miyagi Gorge in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. It is a lush green gorge blessed with two clear streams, the Hirose River and the Shinkawa River. When Taketsuru visited this place for the first time, he drank some of his Black Nikka in the clear water of the Shinkawa River and confirmed the taste. It is said that he decided to build the distillery on the spot. The pride of the Miyagi Gorge Distillery is its “café-style continuous distiller. At the time of its introduction, this distiller was already considered obsolete. Because it was an old-fashioned distillation machine, it was prone to leaving behind miscellaneous flavors, but Taketsuru chose to use this old-fashioned distillation machine because the technology could transform them into the original aroma and sweetness of the ingredients. At the Miyagikyo Distillery, people who have inherited Taketsuru’s passion are still continuing to make various attempts to make whisky taste better.

Image credit: Miyagikyo Distillery|NIKKA WHISKY

For more information on the Miyagikyo Distillery, please see this article.

Ben Nevis Distillery

LocationFort William District, Highlands
Start of operation 1825

Ben Nevis Distillery is one of the oldest authorized distilleries in the Fort William area of the Highlands, founded in 1825 and owned by Nikka Whisky since 1989. The distillery is located at the foot of Ben Nevis at an altitude of 1,343 meters, blessed with clear snowmelt and abundant nature. Using traditional methods and Nikka’s technology, the distillery produces Scotch Whisky with an aromatic, vanilla-like, mellow taste, befitting the name of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain. Two first distillation kettles and two second distillation kettles with an annual production of 2 million liters.
Reference: Ben Nevis|Asahi Breweries, Ltd.

History
1825 Long John MacDonald established the distillery.
1878 Nevis distillery was established next door to meet the increasing demand.
1908 Nevis distillery was closed. After that, the maturing room was used by Ben Nevis.
1955 Cafestill was introduced. Production of both malt and grain started.
Production ceased in 1978.
1984 Rebuilt the distillery and restarted production. Cafestill was removed and only malt distillate was produced.
1986 The whole whiskey industry slowed down and the distillery was closed.
1989 Nikka bought Ben Nevis distillery.
1990 The distillery was reopened.
2001 Asahi Breweries made Nikka a wholly owned subsidiary. Ben Nevis distillery became a subsidiary of Asahi Breweries.

3. Product name and photo

Nikka Session

4. Characteristics

Scottish and Japanese malt liquors, a musical session where different personalities collide.
This is a whisky that is like pleasant music, where Scottish malt with its gorgeous aroma and Japanese malt with its bitter aftertaste meet and demonstrate their individuality. This whisky has a gorgeous aroma and malt aroma, smooth mouthfeel and oak sweetness. It is characterized by a lingering peaty finish with a hint of bitterness.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaRefreshing orange and apple aroma with sweet and savory malt flavor. A gentle and pleasant vanilla aroma from the barrel.
TasteSmooth and creamy mouthfeel. Fruity and light taste in harmony with the sweetness of the oak.
AftertasteSlightly bitter taste with a lingering peaty aftertaste that spreads slowly.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content43% alcohol by volume
alcohol categoryBlended malt
Barrel typeScottish malt and Japanese malt are used.
Contents700ml
Sales volumeApproximately 50,000 cases in the first year (1 case = 12 bottles x 700ml)
Suggested retail price4,180 yen (tax included)
Release dateSeptember 29, 2020

5. Awards

No awards have been received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product nameNikka Session
Volume700ml
Suggested retail priceTax included: 4,180 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is Around 3,800 yen to 4,200 yen The resale price on Mercari is as follows. (*as of 3/24/2021)
The selling price is close to the list price.

6-3. Yahoo auction bidding price

The winning bid price on Yahoo Auction is Lowest price: 2,200 yen, highest price: 4,180 yen, average price: 2,911 yen (*Statistics for the past 120 days from 3/24/2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

On mail order sites, it is sold at Around 3,000 yen to 4,000 yen(*As of 3/24/2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR SHINKAI

At “BAR SHINKAI”, which is operated by this site, it is offered at 1 cup 45ml: 1,430 yen (tax included) (*As of 3/24/2021) Bar Shinkai, which is operated by this site, offers the product at

7. Summary

The sweetness spreads throughout the mouth the moment you put it in your mouth. It has a gorgeous fruity aroma similar to Ben Nevis with a hint of vanilla and a light peaty aroma at the end.
The mouthfeel is mellow, creamy and sweet like vanilla. The finish is round and creamy with a hint of bitterness.
The best way to drink it is with a highball. The manufacturer recommends “session soda”. The fruity and gorgeous aroma, the sweetness of the malt and bitterness of the peat, and the spiciness of the carbonation are a perfect match.
It is said to be similar to Shin Taketsuru, so I’d love to compare the two.
When it was first released, it was difficult to obtain because it was a limited bottle, but two to three months after its release, liquor stores began to stock it to some extent, and it became a whiskey that can be purchased at almost regular prices both in stores and online.

It has become a whisky that can be purchased at almost any price in stores and online.

Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky

If you want to learn more about Japanese whisky, which is a global trend, we highly recommend these books.

(1). Japanese Whiskey as an Education for Business

This is a book written by Mamoru Tsuchiya, a world-famous whisky critic and representative of the Whisky Culture Research Institute, titled ” Japanese Whisky as a Culture that Works for Business. “
The book covers the basics of whisky, the introduction of whisky to Japan, the birth of Japanese whisky, advertising strategies and the rise of Japanese whisky, and the current rise of craft distilleries. This is a book that summarizes Japanese whisky in a very easy to understand way.

(2). Whisky and I (Masataka Taketsuru)

Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, devoted his life to brewing whisky in Japan. This is a revised and reprinted version of the autobiography of a man who simply loved whiskey and talked about himself. The book vividly depicts the days when he went to Scotland alone to study as a young man and overcame many hardships to complete Japanese whiskey, as well as his companion, Rita.

created by Rinker
¥1,650
(2021/11/30 14:00:50時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(3). A Letter of Challenge from a New Generation Distillery

Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whiskey boom, what were the managers of craft distilleries thinking and what were their thoughts as they took on the challenge of making whiskey? This book tells the stories of 13 craft distillery owners, including Ichiro Hido of Venture Whiskey, famous for his Ichirose Malt, who inspired the birth of craft distilleries in Japan.

created by Rinker
repicbook(リピックブック)株式会社
¥1,870
(2021/11/30 14:00:51時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(4). Whiskey Rising

This is the Japanese version of Whisky Risng, published in the US in 2016, with much updated content. Not only does it describe the history of Japanese whiskey in detail, but it also includes data on all the distilleries in Japan, including the craft distilleries that have been founded in recent years. The book also includes descriptions of the legendary bottles that have been released, as well as information on bars where Japanese whiskey can be found.

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