[Review] Nikka Coffey Malt

Nikka Coffey Malt” is a whiskey made using Nikka Whisky’s traditional café-style continuous distillation system (café still). While grain whiskey made in café stills is generally made from corn, Nikka has been challenging to make a new flavored whiskey by distilling barley malt in café stills.

1. Manufacturer

Nikka Whisky Co.

Establishment 1934
Head office location 4-31, Minami-Aoyama 5-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8616, Japan
Owned distilleries Yoichi Distillery, Miyagikyo Distillery, Ben Nevis Distillery

2. Distilleries

Yoichi Distillery

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

The 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 similar to Scotland Cool and humid climate, rich water source and clean air Masataka Taketsuru believed that a place with all of the characteristics of Scotland was essential for making ideal whiskey, and he 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 whiskey. He was determined to replicate the whiskey-making methods he had learned at the distilleries of Scotland, without compromise. The symbol of this commitment is “direct coal distillation” . This distillation method is based on the method of the Longmorn distillery, where he learned it himself. If it is necessary to make genuine whiskey, 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 about Yoichi Distillery, please 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 by blending multiple raw materials from different distilleries” desperately needed a second distillery.
Taketsuru chose Miyagikyo in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. It is a lush green gorge blessed with two clear streams, the Hirose River and the Shin River. When Taketsuru visited this place for the first time, he drank some of his Black Nikka in the clear water of the Shin River and confirmed the taste. It is said that he decided to build the distillery on the spot. The pride of the Miyagikyo distillery is its “café-style continuous distillation machine” .
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.

The characteristics of Nikka’s blended products consist of the raw liquor produced by three distillers (machines).
One is the straight pot still at the Yoichi distillery. The first is the straight pot still at the Yoichi distillery, which is currently the only one in the world that uses direct coal-fired distillation to produce a heavy and powerful malt. It is a full-bodied malt with plenty of peat and smoke. The other is the bulge-type pot still at the Miyagikyo distillery. The gorgeous and fragrant malt produced by steam indirect distillation is a completely different type of malt from Yoichi. Comparing Yoichi to the Highlands and Miyagikyo to the Lowlands, each distillery produces whiskey with its own unique characteristics.

The founder of the company, Masataka Taketsuru, said, “If we don’t start using grain whiskey, Japanese whiskey won’t be able to be called a full-fledged whiskey” . It is indispensable in balancing the unique malts of Yoichi and Miyagikyo. This is then brought together by the blending techniques that have been handed down from Mr. Taketsuru.

The Nikka Whisky “Miyagikyo Distillery” possesses a traditional “café-style continuous distillation machine” . The current mainstream continuous distillation machine can increase the degree of alcohol purification, but it also removes the flavor components. On the other hand, the “café-type continuous distillation machine” owned by Nikka is an older type that is less efficient in distilling, but has the characteristic of retaining the aroma and ingredients derived from the raw materials in the distillate. This distillation machine was invented around 1830, and is called a “café still” after its developer, Enias Café. Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, had a dream to introduce the café-type continuous distillation machine to his factory and make authentic blended whisky. His wish came true, and the café still, which was installed in 1963 and began full-scale operations the following year, was an “extremely old-fashioned” type even for its time. This was Masataka’s persistence in seeking “real taste”.

3. Product name and photograph

Nikka Coffey Malt

4. Characteristics

The sweetness and aroma of malt that can only be felt in a cafe style.

The sweetness and aroma of malt, a hint of vanilla, and a light malt flavor are in harmony. It is characterized by a light and smooth mouthfeel, a creamy sweetness that spreads softly, and a clean and refreshing aftertaste.
The aroma is very powerful and well-balanced, with each parameter being overwhelmingly strong, even surpassing that of Cafe Grain.

4-1. Tasting Notes

Aroma The aroma of this malt is particularly pronounced, with a bitterness like cocoa or coffee, and a sweet aroma of strong fruit, vanilla, and fat like cream.
Taste More clove-like spice, bitterness, and a deeper sweetness than the Cafe Grain. The taste is smooth and pitter-patter.
Aftertaste The aftertaste is short, light, and sweet like caramel and tropical fruits.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content 45%
alcohol category Malt Whisky
Barrel type oak
Contents 700ml
Number of bottles sold
Suggested retail price 6,600 yen (tax included)
Release date

Launched in January 2014 as a Europe-only product
June 10, 2014 Sales launch in Japan

Awards received

International Spirits Challenge 2017
Won the highest award in the grain whisky category, “Trophy” .

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product name

Nikka Coffey Malt

Volume 700ml
Suggested retail price 6,600 yen (tax included)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is Around 8,000 yen to 9,000 yen The resale price on Mercari is as follows
(*as of March 29, 2020)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo Auction

The current price on Yahoo Auction is Lowest bidder: 6,750 yen, highest bidder: 11,000 yen, average bidder: 8,416 yen (*as of March 29, 2020)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

It is also sold at Around 9,000 yen to 12,000 yen It is also sold at (*as of March 29, 2020)


6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR SHINKAI”, which is operated by this site, it is available at 1 cup, 45 ml: 1,760 yen (tax included) (*As of March 29, 2020)

7. Summary

The aroma before drinking conveys a caramel-like scent behind the stimulation of alcohol.
When you drink it straight, the first thing you notice is a rubbery or sulfuric aroma, followed by a sweet banana-like scent. It also has a woody aroma in the back.
When you taste it, there is some alcohol pungency, but the banana-like taste and the nutty taste come from the back of the bottle.
When water is added, the aroma in the nose gives the impression of a vinegar-like stimulus.
As it rolls on the tongue, the sweet aroma becomes milder and the malt and woody notes come forward.
On the palate, as if an extension of the vinegar aroma mentioned earlier, acidity is added, giving the impression of added depth.
The sweetness and aromaticity of the malt that can only be felt because it’s café style! The amber color! Malt sweetness and aromaticity, mild barrel-aged aroma! Please try it once!

It’s a great way to get the most out of your day.

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).Whisky Galore Vol.29 December 2021 issue

In the December 2021 issue of Whisky Galore, published by the Whisky Culture Research Institute, we report on 11 Japanese craft distilleries, including some that are open to the public for the first time, under the title of “Japanese Whisky Craft Frontline,” the first of three consecutive issues. Why did the popularity of Japanese whiskey and the craft boom occur? We will examine with interviews. Chichibu Distillery / Chichibu No.2 Distillery / Mars Shinshu Distillery / Mars Tsunuki Distillery / Kanosuke Distillery / Hioki Distillery / Ontake Distillery / Osuzuyama Distillery / Kaikyo Distillery / Hanyu Distillery / Konosu Distillery

created by Rinker
(2023/06/08 20:06:01時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(2). Japanese Whisky 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.

(3). 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 whisky, as well as his companion, Rita.

created by Rinker
(2023/06/08 01:05:28時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

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

Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whisky 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 Whisky, famous for his Ichirose Malt, who inspired the birth of craft distilleries in Japan.

created by Rinker
(2023/06/08 07:00:08時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(5). 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 whisky can be found.

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