Nikka, Japan's second largest distiller, was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, the man generally credited with starting Japan's whisky industry. Perhaps as a result of Taketsuru's early training in Scotland, Nikka's style tends to be slightly more "scotch-y" than their rivals Suntory.
This is Nikka's Tsuru 17, a whisky which is not readily available outside of Japan. Happily, I picked up a miniature on our last trip there!
Bottled at a relatively low 43% ABV, it's a gloriously rich-looking golden dram.
The nose is very sweet, quite light and sugary with a subtle but warming alcohol edge to it. There's the barest hint of damp wood and over time, a sweet clementine citrus tone appears.
Watered, the sweetness is reduced and the fruit becomes fresher, greener – pears or even under-ripe strawberries.
In the mouth it's honey sweet on the tip of the tongue, with a touch of hot pepper coming through. It's creamy smooth with hints of vanilla, and a slight grain bitterness right at the finish.
Water mutes the sweetness, and brings a fruity, pear nature to the front. The pepper remains, and it's still gloriously creamy but without that bitter edge.
A delicious dram that's worthy of 4 stars – if only I'd bought a bigger bottle!
This review was originally published 22nd January, 2014. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.