This week continues the Japanese theme, sticking with Nikka Whisky. Here, we go back to the Miyagikyo distillery.
This is the Miyagikyo 12 Year Old, the middle of the three vintages normally available (between the 10 and the 15). As you can see above, it's a glorious golden colour in the glass.
The initial impression on the nose is of overwhelming alcohol – surprising, as it's bottled at 45%. There's a lot of that raw grain smell, with just a hint of sweetness lurking underneath. With water, the alcohol is cut back enough to reveal the character of the whisky to shine through. There's more of that sweetness, almost brown sugar-like, and the rawness is faded.
In the mouth, it's reminiscent of a young bourbon, with that untamed rawness – although it's a lot smoother than the nose suggests. That alcohol leaves a long, burning tail. Watered down, it's still good and powerful but the sweetness comes out, with some fresh, green citrus aspects to it.
This one is definitely improved with water; it brings out a fresh, sweet and very drinkable character that is otherwise overwhelmed by a surprisingly young-feeling alcohol rawness.
This review was originally published 9th May, 2012. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.