Showing posts with label Japanese whisky. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japanese whisky. Show all posts

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Twenty Different Whiskeys in One Night? You Bet!

Last night I joined forces with Kenneth Boll of Cask & Ale as we made our way to Milwaukee to host a charity tasting event... with twenty whiskeys.  This wasn't a choice of twenty, it was twenty pours for each attendee!

That sounds like a lot and it was, but we did it safely. Anyone who drove to the event required a designated driver, and those who didn't drive walked in from their nearby homes. There was also plenty of food and water. Most folks were good about using dump buckets.

The venue was a lot of fun. Dave, the organizer, held the event at his home - but we were on top of his garage - he converted the rooftop to a deck!  Thankfully, the weather mostly cooperated, no rain, not overly hot, but it was very humid. As such, no photos of me melting in my shirt will be posted.

This was a worldwide whiskey tour, giving folks a chance to taste a little of everything. There were a few selections I would have liked to have added in, but we had a few requests which included not to serve anything peated, and for a majority of the pours to be American. Here's what was served:

    • Russell's Reserve 10 Bourbon
    • Michter's 10 Bourbon
    • Jos. A. Magnus Triple Cask Bourbon
    • Remus Repeal Reserve Bourbon
    • Redemption High Rye Cask Strength Bourbon
    • Jefferson's Ocean Voyage 10 Cask Strength Bourbon
    • Old Forester 1920 Bourbon
    • Booker's Country Ham Bourbon
    • Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A119 Bourbon
    • Thomas S. Moore Extended Port Cask Finished Bourbon
    • Whistlepig 12 Rye
    • High West A Midwinter Night's Dram Rye
    • Angel's Envy Rye Finished in Rum Casks
    • Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky
    • Midleton Very Rare Irish Whisky
    • Redbreast 12 Cask Strength Irish Whisky
    • Brenne 10 French Single Malt
    • Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Scotch
    • The Glendronach 12 Single Malt Scotch
    • Paul John Classic Single Malt Indian Whisky

The crowd favorites seemed to be equally split between the Remus Repeal Reserve, A Midwinter Night's Dram, Michter's 10, and Paul John Classic. 

When all was said and done, everyone said they learned a lot and had a great time. They asked about conducting a future whiskey event, and I even had Dave agree that the next one could include some peated whiskies!

My favorite part of whiskey, even beyond sipping it, is sharing the knowledge and watching folks expand their horizons.  If you're interested in an event of your own, let's talk. Learn, Laugh, and Enjoy Great Whiskey! 


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


Japanese whisky is an interesting category. Until very recently (meaning 2021), Japanese whisky could be pretty much anything. It just has to be sourced and bottled in Japan. The result was many brands were simply blending and bottling whiskies from other countries and slapping a label on them.

This year, the regulations changed. To be considered a Japanese whisky, it must be:

  • Malted from grains as the initial material, but additional grains can be added later
  • The water used in the entire process must be from Japan
  • The whisky must be mashed, fermented, and distilled in a Japanese distillery
  • 95% or less ABV
  • Stored in wooden barrels of no more than 700 liters for at least three years
  • Must be bottled at no less than 40% ABV
  • E150 caramel coloring is allowed

That takes care of many Japanese whisky brands. Nikka is one of the few brands that have consistently distilled, aged, and bottled in Japan. 

Today I'm reviewing Nikka Coffey Grain, which is a Japanese whisky created at the Miyagikyo Distillery. If you're looking at that name and thinking that coffee has something to do with it, you'd have guessed wrong. Coffey refers to the type of still used in the distillation process. The Coffey still was invented in 1830 by an engineer named Aenus Coffey. The Coffey still is a pot still that runs continuously versus batch distillation.

Nikka Coffey Grain starts with a mashbill of 95% corn and 5% malted barley. It carries no age statement, is packaged at 90° (45% ABV), and retails for about $64.99. It can sometimes be difficult to find but is not allocated and is available throughout the United States.

So, is it any good? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  For the record, I purchased my bottle back in 2019.

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Coffey Grain was brilliant gold in color. It made a thin rim and heavy, watery legs that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Considering the mashbill, I was unsurprised when corn was the first thing I encountered. I found aromas of dried hay, caramel, and apples as well. When I took the vapor into my mouth, honey danced across my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick, full, and rich. It coated everywhere. Chocolate and English toffee were on the front, then on the middle, honey and caramel apple took over. The back offered smoked oak, clove, and creamy vanilla. 

Finish:  Medium-to-long in duration, the finish highlighted barrel char, oak, corn, and vanilla. It seemed well-balanced.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: If you love Bourbon but want to explore things beyond the United States, Nikka Coffey Grain is an interesting alternative. You get many of the typical flavors you'll find in Bourbon, including the charred oak. The mouthfeel is luscious and gives the whole experience a lovely start. It may be a tad expensive for some, but in the end, I believe you'll find it a good investment. I crown Nikka Coffey Grain with a Bottle rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.