In the previous 4 articles I have talked extensively about Suntory whisky. However when it comes to the story of Japanese whisky, the most important company is probably Nikka. Taketsuru and Yoichi, Miyagikyo and Pure Malt White are some of the more famous products of
Nikka. Recently it has also introduced the wonderful CoffeyGrain whisky.

Once upon a time Japanese whiskies were considered to be unsuited for international customers, they were not appreciated at all in Europe or America. One of the reason was that Japanese whiskies were considered to taste too “Japanese.” Japanese people at the time were unaccustomed to the strong taste of Scottish Whisky and even today most bartenders know that whiskies like Fragrance of the peat are too strong for the tastes of most Japanese customers. Because of this bartenders tend to offer people not used to whisky drinks like Aberlour or Springbank.

Nikka and Suntory therefore thought that making whisky suitable to Japanese palate was needed. And one particular whisky Nikka made was Black Nikka Special.

Black Nikka is perhaps the most famous whisky in Japan. Most people who like Japanese whisky have heard of it, but Black Nikka Special is not as well known. Even the Nikka official homepage does not have much information on it. The reason is that peoples taste has changed remarkably in the last decades, and the sort of palate that was popular a few decades ago isn’t really popular anymore.

Black Nikka Special was first made in 1965, the company employees worked hard to make it. It is extremely easy to drink, with a hint of sweetness from a sherry cask. But its not easy to find these days, even the Nikka managed Nikka Blender’s Bar prefers to stock Yoichi or Pure Malt White. It is, truth be told not a high class whisky, but most foreign customers of mine have commented on how mild and easy it is to drink for its class.

I recommend that you give Black Nikka, or Black Nikka special a try, especially if you are interested in Japanese whisky history, it is a wonderfully mellow blend and goes well with most cocktails. You can for example use it in the Manhattan cocktail intended for Nikka Coffey Grain.

So, lets try to make Manhattan with Black Nikka Special


BlackNikka (Normal or Special):45ml

Italian vermouth:7.5ml

french vermouth:7.5ml

Angostura bitters:1dash

squeeze a lemon Peal & Orange Peal

That´s it, enjoy your Black Nikka Special Manhattan!

Henry Baldvin