Whisky Review #63: Nikka Taketsuru 21 Years Old

This week’s review focuses on a blended malt from Japan which has captured the imagination (and palates) of many who have come into contact with it. It is a well-made whisky which showcases the best aspects of both the distilleries which contribute to its make-up.

The Taketsuru range of blended malts (consisting of the Pure Malt, 17 Years Old and 21 Years Old) is part of the core range of offerings from Nikka and is made up of malt whiskies from both Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries in Japan.

Both distilleries have distinct flavour profiles, with the whisky from Yoichi possessing a peaty and more robust palate and the whisky from Miyagikyo possessing a cleaner and fruity palate.

The whisky which is produced at Yoichi distillery is the result of peated malt which has been distilled using stills which are directly heated using coal, whereas the whisky which is produced at Miyagikyo distillery is the result of unpeated malt which undergoes a more common distillation process using indirect steam-fired stills.

While these whiskies are bottled on their own as single malts (with the present range being dominated by NAS offerings due to a shortage in stock at both distilleries), stocks from both distilleries are also blended to form the Taketsuru range of blended malts.

This week’s review focuses on the Nikka Taketsuru 21 Years Old, which is a blended malt that has won many accolades and awards for its superb range of flavours and balance and it, along with the other expressions from the Taketsuru range, have garnered a host of admirers from across the world.

nikka-taketsuru-21-year-old-japanese-pure-malt-whisky-2
Nikka Taketsuru 21 Years Old

Nikka Taketsuru 21 Years Old (43% abv)

Colour: Deep amber

Nose: Floral and oaky in equal measure on initial entry, with wood spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg intermingling well with the oak notes. Sweet malt and fruit notes (in particular, pears, apricots and plums) are rather apparent and there is a hint of barley sugar and a whiff of smoke. (20/25)

Palate: Sweet, spicy and fruity on initial entry, with a drying note due to the presence of the wood spices detected on the nose. Slightly alcoholic and there are elements of black pepper and sherry.

With time, grated ginger and orange rind also make an appearance along with chewy malt, barley sugar and just a hint of peat smoke coupled with soy sauce. (21/25)

Finish: Long and spicy on the finish, with hints of oak, wood spices and fruit. The sherry is also more apparent at the end rather than on the palate and the soy sauce notes are also detected, although it prefers to linger in the background along with the peat smoke. (19/25)

Balance: Slightly skewed towards the spicy side of things, but this is quite a well presented dram and the sherried fruity notes are definitely apparent in the overall scheme of things. Probably lacking in the smoky and salty areas due to the fleeting presence of the peat smoke and the soy sauce-like salinity, but the balance of this dram is otherwise of a good level. (20/25)

Rating: 80/100

While I found this to be a rather intriguing dram, I felt that there were notes in this which weren’t as well-presented as I would have liked. Some elements of this dram such as the peat smoke and salinity are somewhat lacking and I find that this causes the dram to lose a bit of its complexity, but this is a personal observation and to each their own.

The Nikka Taketsuru 21 Years Old can be found in many stores both terrestrial and online and the price tends to vary greatly according to where one tends to find it, but if one were looking for a point of reference, Master of Malt typically sells it for £245.83 when it is in stock.

Until the next review, have a great week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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