As we enter the second week of May, we’re keeping World Whisky Month going strong by featuring another Japanese Whisky brand that has helped to put the industry on the map. This iconic brand is considered one of the pioneers of Japanese whisky and is responsible for producing a range of spectacular expressions that have garnered a fervent following around the globe. Our featured brand for week two is none other than Nikka Whisky.
Nikka was brought to life by the great Masataka Taketsuru in Hokkaido in 1934, and the company has been growing ever since. Masataka established Nikka because he was determined to introduce his fellow Japanese to the joys of authentic whisky. Today, the company has amassed awards and gained global recognition.
The origins of Nikka actually began in Scotland when Taketsuru relocated to the country to study whisky production, learning the tricks of the trade from a number of great distilleries, including Longmorn and Hazelburn. Upon returning to Japan, he was keen to teach what he had learned to those interested in whisky distilling, passing on his knowledge and setting the ball rolling to establish a local whisky industry in Japan.
Taketsuru started this process by working with Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory, in the construction of the Yamazaki distillery. He told Torii that he thought Hokkaido would be the perfect location for the distillery due to the climate there being similar to Scotland. However, Torii was worried about the cost of transporting grain and other necessary ingredients and equipment to the island in the far north and he chose the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, as the site for Yamazaki instead.
Taketsuru would have to wait some 10 years before finally getting to produce whisky on Hokkaido.
After finishing his work with Yamazaki and having passed on all that he had learnt, he set about creating Nikka, with his first solo venture being construction of the Yoichi distillery on Hokkaido in 1934. Here, Taketsuru introduced a coal-fired pot still, similar to the one he had learned with at Longmorn.
Continuing to be used today, this still helps to create the bold and strong liquid that the distillery is famous for, a quality that ensures it stands apart among the best whiskies on the market, including top expressions from Suntory’s Yamazaki and Hakushu.
But Nikka wasn’t finished. The Miyagikyo distillery was added to their portfolio in 1969 as the company continued to expand; this time around, Coffey stills were installed instead of the coal-fired pot stills used at Yoichi, allowing for an entirely different style of spirit to be produced. Having both distilleries meant that Nikka could offer the growing number of Japanese whisky-lovers two completely different types of single malt spirit, while also being able to create a plethora of other styles and flavours through their own blends.
Sadly, Taketsuru passed away in 1979, but Nikka has continued to grow exponentially under the helm of his nephew, Takeshi Taketsuru. Takeshi has taken the company to new heights, with the purchase of Scotland’s famous Ben Nevis distillery, in 1989, being a particular highlight.
Today, Nikka is seen as a true leader and giant of the whisky world. Their powerful, bold and smoky Yoichi expressions stand apart from anything else produced in Japan in terms of flavour profile. And, their Miyagikyo expressions are rising in popularity by the day.
From their adored Coffey Grain, Coffey Malt and Nikka 12 blended whiskies, to the hugely popular Taketsuru 17, Taketsuru 21, Nikka From The Barrel and their more experimental limited edition single malts finished in a variety of different wood types, they are true pioneers and have firmly cemented their place in Japanese whisky lore.
It’s against this backdrop that we’re pleased to showcase the best of Nikka Whisky this week, both the new releases and the proven classics. Each of these bottles will distinguish your collection with the signature flavors and aromas pioneered by Masataka himself. Explore our world class selection of Nikka whisky and treat yourself to a bottle (or two) today!
For the next week, you can save big on all Nikka bottles on our site, and there’s a lot of them! All you have to do is choose the bottles you want to add to your collection and order online today. We’ll handle the rest!Shop Nikka Bottles