[Review] Nikka - All Malt 40%

A bit of Japanese whisky on the blog today. Apart from the post I wrote about my Nikka tasting session at the beginning of August, I haven't reviewed any individual Japanese whisky. And the reason why is quite simple: the price. Japanese whisky is not something new; The Nikka company, for instance, starting production before WWII. However, it was pretty much unheard of in Europe until very recently, but for whatever reason, its popularity has absolutely exploded. And as usual with high demand and rather limited availability, prices have gone through the roof. If you want to get hold of a bottle of Yamazaki 12 for example, it will cost short short of £100. That's without mentioning the Yamazaki 18 which will set you back around £350 at auction. Even the NAS bottles will cost around £50. Personally, I do not think the hefty price-tag for these whiskies can be justified, no matter how good they might be. As mentioned above, a lot of it is to do with rarity and trend, and I don't really want to pay for it with bottles I want to drink.
Now this particular bottle, the Nikka All Malt, was a gift from my parents a couple of years ago, at the beginning of my journey of whisky discovery. I remember at the time finding it pleasant but nothing extraordinary compared to the Coal Ila or Laphroaig I was drinking. So I resorted to mix it with Coke ( I know, sacrilege!) To be honest, that was the best whisky and coke I had ever had! After that, I left the bottle to one side and it took me a while to get back into it. And I must say, it isn't bad at all for one of the most affordable Japanese whiskies around.

I don't know if All Malt is widely available. I don't see much of it in Manchester but I know it is more available in France. It is, as suggested by the name, a blended malt whisky so made exclusively with malted barley and no other grains. It is bottled at 40% and is a lovely golden colour. On the bottle, nothing states that it is non chill-filtered or natural colour so I presume it is chill-filtered and E150 was added (also considering the fact it is mass-market product).

Nose: Fresh and sweet, fresh fruit (juicy pear in particular), citrus notes, soft honey, vague hints of chocolate and smoke (Yoichi?), a bit mineral too.

Palate: Sweet vanilla first, honey, exotic fruit, still some pear and hints of chocolate and a little spice but the citrus is much less present

Finish: Sweet finish with a hint of spice but nothing mind-blowing. It fades away relatively quickly.

With water: Much less going on when you add a few drops of water. You mainly keep the sweetness, but I would not add any to this blended malt. 

As my first proper exposure to Japanese whisky, I must admit it is a very pleasant dram despite not being overly complex. Like some of the other Nikka, it is a very light whisky and I would not add any water to it as I do not think it takes it very well. For the price my parents paid (about £20 at the time) I think it is pretty good. Having just searched online for it, the main whisky sites seem to sell it for around £35. Would I buy it again at this price? Probably no, especially when you consider the single malts you can get for around the same price. But as far as more affordable Japanese options go, I think All Malt alongside Nikka's Pure Malt White are very decent whiskies. I would now like to try some Yamazaki to see if the quality and taste can at least partly justify the price increase...


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