Normally a 500ml bottle feels like a bit of a con, but Nikka from the Barrel is both well priced (especially for a Japanese whisky!) and styled with inimitable Japanese minimalism. Yes it is a blend, but to dismiss this as 'just a blend' reeks of elitism. The nose presents milk tea, gentle florals, orchard fruits, ginger and (of course) vanilla. The palate is greeted with a nice fruity arrival, mainly apples and pears, after which an array of spices fill the mouth: vanilla, pickled ginger, cinnamon and clove. The 51.4% does some work here providing a full mouth feel but no alcohol burn. The finish is warming, respectably long with an enjoyable citrus spike. Nikka from the Barrel is enjoyable but besides the packaging I'm not sure I can detect a clear "Japanese-ness" about it.