[Review] Nikka From the Barrel

From the Barrel” won the gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC) 2016 for the fifth year in a row.
In 2009, “From the Barrel” was also selected as the “Best Japanese Blended Whisky” at the World Whisky Awards (WWA), an international whisky competition, as a representative of Japan beyond the framework of subcategories, overcoming so-called aged products such as 17-year-old and 21-year-old whiskies. In 2009, it was selected as the “Best Japanese Blended Whiskey” as a representative of Japan beyond the framework of subcategories.

1. Manufacturer

Nikka Whisky Co.

Establishment 1934
Location of head office 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 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 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 photo

Nikka From the Barrel

4. Characteristics

As the name suggests, it is from the barrel and has an alcohol content of 51.4 degrees.

“From the Barrel” is a blend of malt and grain that has been matured and then re-barreled and restocked for several months. This process is called “marriage” and it is during this time that the different whiskey personalities blend together as if they were married, resulting in a harmonious taste.
Many re-stored whiskeys are watered down to 40-45% alcohol before bottling, but “From the Barrel” is watered down to 51% alcohol. From the Barrel” has been set at 51% alcohol by minimizing the use of water splashes, which gives it a bold and satisfying drinkability, as well as a rich yet delicate aroma and flavor harmony created by re-storing (marrying).

4-1. Tasting Notes

Aroma Rich and delicate aroma
Taste Heavy and full flavor
Aftertaste Rich and long aftertaste

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content 51%
alcohol category Blended Whisky
Barrel type Cask type
Contents 500ml
Number of bottles sold
Suggested retail price 2,640 yen (tax included)
Release date

October, 1985

Awards received

2016 ISC Gold Award ( 5 consecutive years until 2016)
2015 ISC Best in Category Award (Trophy)
2009 WWA Best Japanese Blended Whisky
2009 WWA Best Japanese Blended Whisky – Japanese Blended Whisky [No Age] (5 consecutive years from 2007 to 2011)

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product name

Nikka From the Barrel

Capacity 500ml
Suggested retail price 2,640 yen (tax included)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is 3 ,0 Around 3,000 yen to 4,000 yen The resale price on Mercari is as follows.(*As of April 1, 2021)

6-3. Yahoo auction bidding price

The current price on Yahoo Auction is Lowest bidder: 2,730 yen, highest bidder: 4,000 yen, average bidder: 3,395 yen(*as of April 1, 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

It is also sold at 3 Around 3,000-4,000 yen (*as of April 1, 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR SHINKAI” , which is operated by this site, it is available at 1 cup, 45 ml: 1,210 yen (tax included) (*As of April 1, 2021)

7. Summary

Nikka’s signature blended whiskey! The taste and aroma are outstanding!
As for how to drink it, I recommend drinking it straight or twisting it up.
Also, the alcohol content is high, so be careful not to drink too much. If you haven’t tried From the Barrel yet, why don’t you check it out? Please give it a try!

If you have not had a chance to try it, please check it out.

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
(2023/06/05 19:36:31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
(2023/06/05 01:02:31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
(2023/06/05 06:51:19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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