The Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is produced at Miyagikyo distillery in Sendai, Japan.
The "Coffey" part in the name goes back to the two-column stills used to distill the Whisky. They were imported from Scotland back in 1963.
Since using those vintage stills is rare, it is worth mentioning, and Nikka proudly includes the term "Coffey" in the product name. And there's more that makes this Japanese Whisky stand out.
Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey
Category: Single Grain
Price: between $50 and $75
How does Nikka Coffey Grain taste?
First, let's look at the most important characteristic, the taste: Nikka Coffey Grain is often nicknamed Japanese Bourbon. Yet, that comparison does not do justice to the product because the Coffey Grain Whiskey is more than a Japanese variant of the American corn Whiskey.
It is true Nikky Coffey Grain showcases the characteristic sweetness of vanilla and corn. But it also contains hints of peaches, honey wine, cinnamon, and candy. But let's do this step-by-step:
In the nose, you'll get aromas that are close to Bourbon. A lot of vanilla and corn but also hints of chamomile.
Once you take the first sip, you'll get more vanilla combined with fruity sweetness. You can taste flavors like peaches, melon, and grapefruit come through, and also notes of candy and biscuits.
The finish and aftertaste are full of corn notes. So even though this spirit is not a Bourbon, Bourbon lovers probably find it highly agreeable.
What makes Nikka Coffey Grain so special?
As mentioned, the first thing that is unusual about Nikka Coffey Grain is the use of Coffey stills. Those particular two-column stills feature a distinct and patented design for stills developed by Aeneas Coffey in 1830.
Most grain Whisky manufacturers do not use column stills for their distillation but continuous stills because they are more efficient. However, Nikka decided to go with the traditional way to add more character to their Whisky. - Hence, including that fact in the name only makes sense.
Also, grain-based Whisky is often blended, no matter where you go. That means most producers would mix the final result with Whisky from another batch to create a "better" balanced Whisky.
But Nikka decided otherwise and produced an exquisite single-grain Whisky. And the unusual approach and unique taste make this product quite successful.
Looking closer at the mash bill of Nikka Coffey Grain, you'll see that, like Bourbon, it predominantly contains corn. But Nikka also added just a bit of malted barley to it to create a unique flavor profile.
Combined with distilling in the Coffey stills, the flavor profile is very different from most other Whiskys you can find on the market.
Why does Nikka use a Coffey still?
Nikka uses an imported Coffey Grain still because it keeps more of the characteristic aromas, notes, and flavors in the Whisky. The newer continuous stills are way more efficient. But at the same time, they also strip out much flavor out of the spirit.
The result of this decision is a spirit full of character which might, however, not be for everyone. Yet, those who appreciate it will be pleasantly surprised by its sweet and complex flavor profile.
The founder of Nikka, Masataka Taketsuru, is married to a Scottish woman and decided to bring Scottish stills to Japan to produce high-quality Whisky according to Scottish standards.
This attention to detail also shows in the choice of barrels used for aging the Whisky. All casks are made on-site from fresh and new oak.
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is a high-quality spirit with a complex and unusual flavor profile. It is smooth, with a bit of sweetness, comparable to a Bourbon, but with a stronger and lasting, slightly sweet aftertaste.
If you like Bourbon or grain Whiskey, this bottle is something you should definitely try.
Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey FAQs
The Japanese Whiskey is named after the still type used to produce the Whisky. A Coffey still is a particular kind of column still designed by Aeneas Coffey in 1830.
The mash bill contains mainly corn but also a bit of malted barley. Nikka Coffey Grain is a single grain Whisky.
Nikka Coffey Grain is not a very rare Whisky. But because its origin lies in Japan, it might be hard to get to other parts of the world.
Yes, Nikka produces their Coffey Whisky in one of their distilleries in Japan, at Miyagikyo Distillery in Sendai.