It’s Day 5 of our 10 day dekanta anniversary countdown, and today we’re honouring Nikka’s frst distillery. Yesterday, we looked at Hakushu (if you missed that you can catch up right here), and we hope you all grabbed yourself a nice bottle at a discounted price.
Today, we’re looking at the Yoichi distillery, built in 1934 on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.
Nikka Yoichi Distillery
Yoichi was founded by the legendary Masataka Taketsuru, “The Father of Japanese Whisky”, and he chose Hokkaido as a location due to the climate conditions being similar to that of Scotland, where he had learned his trade working at a number of distilleries around the country, while also studying at Glasgow University.
Taketsuru is credited with bringing a lot of unique processes and techniques to Japanese shores, setting the ball rolling for the quality craftsmanship that we see in Japanese single malt whisky today, and most of these techniques were first introduced at Yochi.
One of his biggest introductions was that of a coal-fired pot still. He had seen and learned about these at the Longmorn distillery when he was first starting his whisky journey in Scotland and, despite the inherent difficulties with regulating the temperature of such a piece of equipment, he felt the positives well outweighed the negatives, and so installed one at Yoichi.
The use of this still plays a big part in the toasted, bold and slightly burnt characteristics found in the distillery’s single malts and it is still used to this day.
This style contrasts with that produced at Nikka’s other distillery, Miyagikyo, and this allows them to create incredibly well-balanced and complex blended whiskies, such as the Nikka Coffey Grain and Nikka Tailored expressions.
Over the years, the Yoichi distillery has cemented itself as a firm favourite among Japanese whisky fans around the world, and their single malts have picked up a whole array of awards along the way.
The Best Of Yoichi
There is something to love about each and every whisky that comes from the Yoichi distillery, but there are few expressions that stand apart from the crowd thanks to their unrivalled quality and depth.
The Nikka Yoichi 2000s release is one such bottle and it really is the cream of the crop when it comes to affordable whiskies from the iconic distillery. Created with spirit distilled in 2000, it was matured for around 9 years before bottling at cask strength and brings cooked apples, candied fruits, a good whiff of peat smoke and nutty oak on the nose before the palate follows with rich vanilla, unripened fruits, a building smokiness and an oily mouthfeel. It’s a rich, full-bodied whisky and one that delivers a drinking experience to remember.
The distillery’s 12 and 15 Year Olds should also be high on your shopping list if you want to try the best the distillery has to offer, while their single cask expressions and the new Apple Brandy Finish release offer more unique adaptations of the Yoichi style.
On top of producing some of the best whisky in Japan, the distillery, situated not far from Sapporo, also offers incredible scenic views and a truly interesting visitor’s tour that explains many of the traditional processes used in the whisky production there. If you’re in the area at any point, we’d highly recommend it.