Piña colada whisky – Nikka Coffey Grain 45%

Naturally our Whisky Ladiesfar east‘ trilogy closed with an offering from Japan. Japanese whiskies are known for their ability to craft exquisite top-notch quality whiskies. Nikka certainly has put out a number of quite fabulous whiskies.

Given the bold Kavalan Solist cask strength whisky, we took care to clear our palates and recalibrate our thinking before sampling this grain whisky. We knew it would be much more delicate and nuanced.

To help switch gears from the strong coffee quality of the Kavalan, we were reminded to think ‘coffey stills’ not ‘coffee.’ Our whisky contributor shared that the whisky is named for the type of ‘coffey’ stills used by Nikka. These column stills were enhanced by Aeneas Coffey, who patented his approach which revolutionised liquor production in the mid-1800s.

Here’s what the folks over at Nikka have to say about this particular whisky:

This Grain Whisky is distilled in a “Coffey still”, which is a very traditional and rare patent still Nikka imported from Scotland in 1963. The Coffey still produces a complex whisky with a mellow and sweet taste originating from the grain itself. Please enjoy the uniqueness of this whisky which Nikka offers to the connoisseurs.

Nikka Coffey Grain

Nikka Coffey Grain

Here is what we found:

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Piña colada with coconut, pineapple, lots of tropical dry fruits, sweet as in very sweet, some struggled to get past the ‘alcohol’, vanilla, a little dry papaya, one of those high-end granola cereals chock full of dry fruits
  • Palate – Mmm… some spice, butter, coconut, honey, light banana, quite subtle, only when taking a big swig does the spice peak out
  • Finish – Back to piña colada
  • Water – Adds a little spice and caramel but not really needed

For a setting, we thought would be a perfect pre-dinner whisky to get things started. Or one to sip while having a good chat with a friend where the whisky accompanies nicely but doesn’t command attention or distract from the focus on a good conversation.

Overall it is quite restrained as a whisky, elegant, smooth and easy to drink. It is hard not think this is targeted at what marketeers thing appeals to women, stereotyping preferences for sweet  piña colada like beverages with frilly umbrellas.

What do our whisky ladies of Mumbai have to say?

  • “Instagram whisky with a soft filter”
  • “Gee… are they trying to say this is a woman’s whisky with pretty pink packaging?”
  • “Gateway whisky… easily accessible but…”

In short, most of our lasses prefer a bit less pina colada and a bit more substance and complexity.

That doesn’t mean this isn’t a decent whisky. It absolutely is. However it doesn’t quite hit the preferred character for our whisky women. Talk turned to Yoichi and Nikka’s Taketsuru Pure Malt and away from what was right in front of us.

Just to check if we were missing anything, took a gander at the tasting notes on the bottle:

  • Nose: Fresh and enticing, it reveals ripe pear, cherry and exotic fruit aromas. Citrus notes of blood orange and lemon appear, slowly giving way to more subtle floral scents. With air, aromas of pastry, coconut and bourbon vanilla emerge, with underlying notes of mint and a hint of musk.
  • Palate: Juice and pleasant, the promises of the nose are kept. Intense ripe fruit with rum accents (banana) and caramel. The complexity develops with hints of liquorice and star anise. The mid-palate shows more fruit, dominated by pear nectar and quickly moving on to creamier notes with an omnipresent freshness.
  • Finish: Just as pleasant as on the palate with pear and vanilla bourbon, ending on a very nice light bitter touch.

Do we agree? Well… once they mentioned pear, that rang true. But complex? Musk? Intense ripe fruit?? Hmm… and not one mention of  piña coladas??

Other Nikka whiskies sampled til date:

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