Nikka’s Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year 43%

While more accessible than the others, I couldn’t resist picking up Nikka’s Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 year – largely as it came conveniently in a 180ml bottle! Nikka has quite smartly released a series of smaller bottles so us mere mortals without scads of money do not miss somewhat affordable sampling portions.

Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 year is a blend of the two Nikka single malts described as combining

“… the strong character of Yoichi with the elegance and precision of Miyagikyo. Both masculine and feminine, traditional and innovative, this outstanding pure malt whisky is a worthy tribute to Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky and founder of Nikka.”

It was voted the world’s best blended malt whisky in 2012 in 2014.

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2004 described it as

“Not a whisky for the squeamish. This is big stuff, about as big as it gets without peat or rye. No bar shelf or whisky club should be without one.”

So yes, I admit I was influenced in the purchasing decision. The real test, as always, comes when sampling ‘blind’.

And what did our group discover? Let’s just say we were reminded of a few important lessons…

180ml of Nikka's Taketsuru Pure All Malt 17 (Whisky Lady)

Nikka’s Taketsuru Pure All Malt 17  180 ml (Whisky Lady)

 
First impression:
  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Musk like spicy sweat after a good work-out, lemon lime, tamarind, smoke
  • Taste – So dry it makes one want to drink water, not so much character… bit disappointing as missing elements noted in the nose
  • Finish – Limited – sweetness then stops
Conclusion:
Unveiling:
  • One member simply could not believe this was the same Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 year that is one of his favourites?!
  • We seemed to have missed many of what this particular whisky is known for! How….?
Nikka's Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 (Whisky Lady)

Nikka’s Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 (Whisky Lady)

2nd impression:
So we gave it more time to breathe, took a bit of a break and cleared our palates more fully with cucumber, unsalted bread sticks and water. Then tried again… Good thing we did!
  • Nose – Subtle tobacco smoke started to curl out, dried fruits, sweet… a mix of bright fruity notes of mostly apricot combined with a more masculine musk
  • Taste – Complex, oaky, oily, hint of chocolate, beautiful dance between dried fruits and roasted nuts
  • Finish – Impossible! It went from almost no finish to a delightful medium-long finish with impish spice and oak?!
What we learned is:
  • Breathe – Absolutely needs time to ‘breathe’… This was freshly opened and immediately poured. Excited by the earlier whiskies, we rushed into this one…
  • Order – Tasting order can hugely influence! Should have either tried it 2nd (which a latecomer experienced and loved) or taken a much longer break between tastings to clear our palate and minds of the Chichibu. Funny thing is I originally planned to have it 2nd then last-minute switched largely due to the Jim Murray review (last time I will let him influence!).
  • Revisit – Very important to set it aside and revisit after time – it was like two different whiskies!

Overall impression:

  • Complex and well worth savouring…
  • Please oh please I beg you, give it time to open up with air for a half hour or so… Do not rush!!

We sampled this together with Suntory’s Chita Single Grain Whisky 12 YearIchiro’s Malt Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask and Ichiro’s Malt Houou-uhi as part of a Japanese themed evening in February 2015.

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