Nikka have two Pure Malt expressions, the Taketsuru Pure Malt and just Pure Malt, of course this is the latter. Within the Pure Malt range there are three expressions to choose from. The Pure Malt White, which we’ve posted tasting notes on before, is composed of malt from the Scottish island of Islay, so one can expect a strong peaty nose reminiscent of seaweed and iodine, and a soft but deep taste. The Pure Malt Black, which we’ve also posted tasting notes on and is mainly composed of Yoichi distillery malt, characterised by powerful peat, rich taste and firm flavour that is often found in Yoichi. Then there’s this expression, the Pure Malt Red, which mainly composes of Miyagikyo distillery malt, characterised by a lightly sweet vanilla nose and a soft and gentle taste.
On the nose: a lovely waft of raisins, vanilla, banana, clementines, marzipan, aniseed and a suggestion of peat. Notes of lemon meringue, spices, cinnamon and star anise start emerge, followed by candy apple and a hint of parma violets. Rounding-off the nose are notes of tobacco, salty caramel, butterscotch and burnt sugar. On the palate: those smoky tobacco and tropical notes are ever-present on the palate, followed by a lovely warm buttery note, bitter dark chocolate and salty caramel. Those vanilla, raisins and zesty notes start to emerge, followed by honey, all-spice, white pepper and cinnamon. Completing the palate are notes of a floral nature, musk and a hint of lavender. The finish: long, peppery, sweet, with lingering spices and a delicious smoky note.
The verdict: The Japanese are very meticulous when it comes to creating anything and this trait runs true throughout their whisky. This Nikke Pure Malt Red Label is a beautifully balanced whisky, with tonnes of character. Nikka Pure Malt White has an ABV of 43% – making it a whisky that in my opinion, didn’t need any water at all. However, you may want to add just a few drops of water or leave it to breathe for 5 – 10 minutes.
Nikka Pure Malt Red Blended Japanese Whisky is available online or in well-stocked Whisky Shops, for approximately £46
For more information on the Pure Malt Red, visit the official Nikka website.