It’s that time of the year again, when whisky expert, Jim Murray releases his annual “Whisky Bible” and presents the year’s greatest whiskies. The 2018 edition featured an exciting new winner in the Japanese whisky category.
First published in 2003, Jim Murray’s “Whisky Bible” is a guide presenting all the world whiskies sourced by Murray and his team. Each whisky is tasted by Murray and rated, the maximum mark being 100.
The whiskies are rated on their nose, taste, finish, and balance, and each bible reviews over 1,000 new whisky releases or expressions which haven’t been discovered in previous years. This year featured over 1,200 new entries.
The “Whisky Bible” series has grown tremendously in popularity, now considered one of the most respected and expert publications of the year. Each release contains a “World’s Best Whisky” category, as well as categories for whiskies hailing from countries all over the world.
The new 2018 edition was released in October 2017, and the winners are in.
The Whisky Bible 2018 Awards
For Japanese whisky, the highlight came in the “Whisky Bible 2015”, when the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 was named “The World’s Best Whisky”.
Since then, the last three guides have seen whiskies from North America receive first place. This year, the small batch Colonel EH Taylor Four Grain by Buffalo Trace was crowned, with an Irish whiskey, Redbreast 21 year-old, and Glen Grant 18 year-old coming in at second and third place, respectively.
The Japanese Whisky of the Year award was given to the Nikka Coffey Malt, which came as a pleasant surprise to all.
Nikka Returns With Style
The reason the win came as a surprise is because a Nikka whisky hasn’t been awarded in the Whisky Bible series since 2014 when the SMWS Cask 116.17 Yoichi 25 year-old topped the Japanese whisky category.
The best part, however, is this. For the first time in almost a decade, a very affordable Japanese whisky has won the title, with all the winners before it priced much, much higher than what the Coffey Malt is worth today.
Definitely great news for fans looking for that regular, affordable dram.
Japanese Whisky of the Year – Nikka Coffey Malt
The Nikka Coffey Malt is a wonderful whisky, part of Nikka’s expanding Coffey range, featuring spirits distilled in continuous Coffey (AKA Column) stills.
Traditional, iconic pot stills, with their copper walls and large coils, distil a spirit of around 60 to 80 per cent alcohol; the rest is water and both good and bad flavour compounds. Column still distillate, on the other hand, is much purer, at around 90 percent and so strips the distillate of much of its flavour and texture.
Therefore, column stills aren’t typically used to produce spirits which are rich, deep, and complex, like malt whisky. Production usually focuses on grain whisky, white rum, vodka, and gin.
However, in this case, Nikka’s experiment with malt in the column stills has paid off. The Coffey Malt has become one of the company’s best sellers, domestically and overseas, and now, with this new title, sales are bound to spike once more.