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Nikka Whisky released Coffey Malt Whisky to the American market in 2016 after years of experimenting with new whisky profiles and working to expand the variety of styles available to thirsty whisky aficionados seeking out the next big breakthrough.
First things first, this is not a coffee flavored whisky. Coffey Is a type of continuous still that works very efficiently to distill whiskies of distinctive flavor profiles and textures. And if you’re wondering why I keep spelling “whiskey” wrong, most of the world outside of the United States and Ireland drop the ‘e.’
Nikka Whisky was founded by an ambitious Japanese man named Masataka Taketsuru, who travelled to Glasgow at the age of 24 to learn from the masters about the intricacies of whisky production. Taketsuru studied chemistry at the University of Glasgow and had apprenticeships at three distilleries. In 1934, he built his first distillery in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands. Oddly enough, he sold apple juice under the name of The Great Japanese Juice Company in order to keep his business afloat while he built new stills and mastered his craft, not releasing his first whisky until 1940. Almost eighty years later, Nikka Whisky is making waves with its 100% malted barley expression, Coffey Malt Whisky.
The originality of this 100% malted barley spirit is attained through its Coffey still distillation, which allows the 45% distillate to retain flavors and character while creating an extraordinary, almost creamy, texture. The Coffey still was the world’s first two column continuous still, patented by Irishman Aeneas Coffey in 1830. A Coffey still is essentially a continuous series of pot stills connected together in two columns, allowing higher proof distillates to be gradually separated from the water. Since alcohol evaporates at lower temperatures than water, the steam can be collected in the higher segments of the still as it rises. Cooling the alcohol vapors in the second column of the still converts the vapor back into liquid form, giving you a high proof final distillate. Whereas a single pot still run can produce a distillate of 40-50%, the far more efficient Coffey column still can produce a spirit of up to 95% alcohol.
Despite being distilled solely at one distillery, Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky is technically not a single malt whisky, as that would require distillation in copper pot stills. Following distillation, the Coffey Malt Whisky is aged in used bourbon barrels, accentuating the rich malt characteristics and adding further complexity and smoothness. The final product has a fresh and delicate nose of clove and butterscotch with a fruity and robust palate of sweet malt contrasted by subtle bourbon barrel spices. The mouthfeel is dense and richly textured with a lingering smooth finish that will help you forget, at least temporarily, that the temperature is sinking to the single digits.
The popularity of Japanese whisky outside of Japan has exploded in recent years, simultaneously driving up prices and depleting supplies. The closest parallel to Japanese whisky is Scotch whisky, which was unsurprisingly the primary inspiration. While the Scotch industry grew and developed over centuries with over 100 distilleries, Japan sought to expedite the development of their whisky industry and focus on a small number of distilleries.
The Japanese whisky market, which first started producing spirits in 1923, has proven groundbreaking and innovative in producing a dynamic collection of styles produced with varying stills, peated and unpeated barley, new yeast strains, and various barrel aging options, including the expensive and alluring mizunara Japanese oak.
Product Tasting Profile:
Color: dark amber
Nose: pecan, char smoke, candied citrus, malty sweetness, banana, cinnamon
Palate: vanilla, coconut, maple, cinnamon, clove, toasted grain
Finish: baking spices, butterscotch, rich oak, citrus zest
Jim Murray's Wine Bible 2018: Japanese Whisky of the Year
This brave new world of whisky has something to offer for everyone, and Bin Ends has curated an impressive collection of compelling Japanese whiskies at competitive price points to meet the demand and pique your interest.
PLEASE NOTE THAT SPIRITS ITEMS ARE OFFERED AS IN-STORE PICKUP ONLY. SPIRITS CANNOT BE SHIPPED IN MA AT THIS TIME.