Have you had a chance to try out Nikka’s Yoichi yet? If not, you should. Yoichi may not be quite as famous or popular in the West as Suntory’s Yamazaki or Hibiki, none the less it has a special place in Japanese whisky history. Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka spent most of his life building the company as well as the Yoichi distillery, when he died in 1979 he was buried in Yoichi town alongside his wife. He has always been well known in the Japanese drinks business, but following the popularity of the NHK TV show Massan, he has become something of a household name in Japan, and consequently, the whisky he spent all this time on making, has become something of a household name as well.
Yoichi won the world whisky awards as the Best Single Malt back in 2008, it was also named the best of the best back in 2001 by the whisky magazine and it gets rave reviews. Our bartender here at dekanta tells us without even a hint of hesitation that it is the best whisky in Japan. Perhaps one day competitors will make better whiskies, he said, but that day is not coming anytime soon.
The Yoichi distillery itself distills its whisky using coals, giving it a rich scent. The distillery also uses small pot stills and more peat than Nikka’s other distillery, Miyagikyo does. In fact Yoichi is often described as a highland distillery as its whiskies remind many people of Scotch from the highlands. Taketsuru did after all make it a goal of his to make ‘real’ Scottish whisky.
Of all the Yoichi the 15 year old is perhaps the most prestigious, noted for its bold, powerful taste so if you are looking for a whisky to try out this Yoichi is a safe bet. All of them are excellent though and there are plenty of bottles to choose from while the 15 year old is the cream of the crop in our view. And if you just like to have a small taste before settling on a whole bottle, the Yoichi mini bottle might just be the sort of thing you are after!