There are few Japanese whiskies I consider a true bargain in these days, but Nikka From the Barrel is one of them. Minimalist packaging, solid 51.4% ABV and the aromatic, gingery aroma with cayenne pepper, lemongrass and hints of orange peel leave a good first impression. On the palate, you get an interesting combination of Yoichi and Miyagikyo flavors: initial spiciness is followed by fruity-sweet notes until a zesty-dry bitterness emerges. The medium finish fades with restrained oak, green tea and a touch of fresh mint. Grab a bottle while you still can!
RATING: 3.7/5.0 stars ≙ 85 pts → ABOVE AVERAGE [+]
Apart from peat, it frankly does everything I want in a whisky. There is so much going on while still managing to deliver a coherent narrative of flavours, textures and tones. It's impressive and I find it deeply satisfying.
Somehow Nikka From The Barrel has remained delicious, accessible and reasonably priced (where I am) for a decade.
In my experience so far, this has never been anything but a pleasure to drink.
Allspice and cloves rise first, followed sherry-influenced dried figs, prunes and date syrup. Rich, alcoholic vapours follow that occupy a central point between Rum Raisin, Cointreau, Armagnac and cherry liqueur-filled-chocolates. Still-warm malted bread heads up the more umami tones, which include the nutty sharpness of parmesan just perceptible, but still looming large compared to smoke, so faint it made me question my faculties. Also present and taking a back seat are bourbon-driven oak, vanilla cream soda and toasted sugars.
Red Berry vapor sprites skip over the tongue, priming for the imminent rich brandy cream deluge that switches as soon as it is established, to cola, sarsaparilla root, more orange liqueur and ginger wine. Now, fine effervescent heat builds from all corners until, omnipresent, it morphs that allspice from the nose to a sweeter, more complex 5 spice.
Continuing the spice parade, pink and Szechuan peppercorns take prominence, eventually yielding to fresh ginger before the sweet points of light reappear as candied peel and acacia honey. Another change of pace now, towards drying oak, leather, coffee grounds, salted dark chocolate and maybe... smoke? Smoke on a breeze of what might just be a delicately cooling spearmint.