Initially, the limited Samurai Edition of Nikka Gold and Gold with the black label was a Tokyo travel retail exclusive available at limited Japanese duty-free locations, which made it a sought-after rarity. - The only places you could get it were Haneda and Narita airports, both located in Japan's capital.
Protected by a metal-clad samurai armour, the bottle contains the gold and gold expression. This blended whisky is produced from several nikka expressions and has a thin body with a well-balanced flavor profile.
For rarities like the Nikka Gold & Gold Samurai edition, you can expect to pay up to a couple of hundred dollars. So let's move to the review and see if the expression is actually worth it.
Nikki Gold and Gold Whisky Facts
- Brand: Nikka
- Bottle: Gold and Gold Samurai edition
- Region: Japan
- Type: Blended whiskey (whisky)
- Distilleries: Yoichi & Miyagikyo distilleries
- Filtered: Yes
- Age: No age stated
- ABV: 43% (86 Proof)
- Price: $40 - $60
- Cask: Blended whisky from Pot & Coffey still, aged in various casks
- Taste: subtle sweetness, fruits, hints of spice
- Nose: clean and subtle, with hints of herbs and fruity
Tasting Notes of Nikka Whiskey Gold and Gold
The subtle nose is comparably mild with fruity and fresh aromas, vanilla sweetness, strong caramel notes, warm spices in the background, and soft perfume notes. You can also detect some floral notes in the background and hints of green mint.
Despite the low proof of Nikka's Gold & Gold expression, you can also detect some subtle hints of ethanol.
The overall light palate of the whisky combines the flavors of malt whiskies with grain notes with more floral notes and sweet vanilla and caramel flavors. Winter mint notes, pine, and citrus flavors create a nice balance to the sweet flavors.
The result is a smooth overall palate with mild spice levels and a balanced blend of flavors. The spirit is refreshingly light and thin compared to other nikka expressions I tried before. However, I can imagine this whisky is great in refreshing summer whisky cocktails like a Whisky & Soda aka Japanese Highball.
A short and sweet finish rounds off the flavor profile. The fresh herbal notes and grassy flavors are complemented by a splash of bitterness from black tea. At the very end, an earthy note paired with a slight burn from the alcohol leads to a dry and minty note lingering on the palate.
It's a decent whisky to drink neat, but nothing outstanding. It's also a nice fit for a whiskey cocktail, but on the other hand, you can get more affordable options for use in mixed drinks.
Overall, I would definitely drink this Nikka Gold and Gold special edition again, but it's not what I would order or keep in my home bar.
The limited release of Gold & Gold comes in a samurai suit inside a presentation box. The unique and unusual bottle presentation with its removable samurai armour and its own metallic samurai helmet, make this bottle the ultimate decorative piece on your whiskey shelf.
In fact, this collectible nikka blend is very similar to the original version released in 1968. Even the black label is almost identical to the nikka samurai gold and gold bottle today.
What kind of whiskey is Nikka Gold & Gold
Nikka Gold and Gold is a blended Japanese Whisky made from several Nikka expressions aged in different casks. To create this blended whisky, Nikka uses blended grain and malt whiskies of varying ages.
The thin body and overall light flavor profile make me guess that the whiskies used for the blend didn't age for too long. However, Nikka doesn't give any first-hand information about the aging.
Where is it produced?
The whisky in the Nikka Gold & Gold Samurai edition is produced at the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries. Nestled in Sendai, northern Japan, the Miyagikyo Distillery was thoughtfully chosen for its pristine air, optimal humidity, and abundant underground peat-filtered water. This serene location, embraced by mountains and rivers, captured Masataka Taketsuru's vision, reminiscent of Scotland. Here, the distilled whisky gains a gentle and soft character, echoing the purity of its surroundings.
The Yoichi Distillery, founded by the father of Japanese whisky and Nikka founder Masataka Taketsuru in 1934, brings the essence of the Scottish highlands to Hokkaido's town of Yoichi. Taketsuru's extensive study of Scotch whisky production inspired this establishment. Visitors can tour the vast grounds, which include original stone buildings and his former home. Guided tours in Japanese or downloadable English audio guides provide insight into the distillation process and Taketsuru's legacy.
The history of Nikka Gold & Gold
The Samurai edition with its removable samurai armor looks quite unique and is very different from the standard bottle design, but it is not the first time Nikka has been selling it. In fact, Nikka's Gold and Gold Samurai edition was launched originally in 1968 and is one of the mainstays of Nikka's range. However, only a couple of years later, it was discontinued again during the 1970s.
The bottle design of the Samurai commander came back when Nikka decided to produce this limited edition version. I cannot tell exactly when that was, but it was some years ago already.
With the Samurai armor, they tried to sell it to tourists for a higher price. That's also why it's exclusively sold at the two airports Narita and Haneda. -And that strategy worked.
The bottle it comes in is called "Shirobin" (Japanese for "white bottle"), and it does the job. The design of the label is very similar to the initial version from 1968. Even if you're not a fan of whisky, this extravagant bottle design looks great on the bar shelf. - By the way, the Samurai armor is solid and quite heavy, and you better remove it before pouring your drink.
What's also very interesting is that the Nikka Gold and Gold Whisky has traditionally been a budget whisky and of lower quality than other Nikka whisky. It's the bottle design and the availability that set the price.
How much is Nikka Gold and Gold?
If you buy a bottle at the airport, you will pay between $40-$60, depending on the location and special promotions. That's not an irresistible bargain, but considering the quality and the unique design, it's fair.
If you try to buy this bottle online, you will see prices on the secondary market range from $80 to $500. -The right time for a reminder that this is a budget version of Nikka Whisky, and the quality is not as high as, for instance, that of their Nikka Coffey Grain. Your money might be better invested elsewhere.
The light and mild flavor profile of Nikka Gold and Gold, driven by maltiness and sweet flavors like vanilla and caramel and complemented by soft sweet spices, make this expression an ideal ingredient in light whiskey cocktails.
Here are some cocktail recipes and how Nikka Gold & Gold whiskey complements each one:
- Japanese Highball: Nikka Gold & Gold's smooth character and subtle pepper notes work excellently in the classic Japanese Highball. The drink is made from a combination of whisky and soda water, creating a refreshing and sophisticated drink often sold at Izakaya restaurants.
- Whiskey Smash: The smooth palate of Nikka Gold & Gold whiskey harmonizes well with muddled fresh mint and zesty citrus in a Whiskey Smash, resulting in a revitalizing and aromatic cocktail that's both invigorating and flavorful.
- Japanese Whiskey Sour: With its subtle yet nuanced flavors, Nikka Gold & Gold whiskey shines in a Japanese Whisky Sour, where its notes blend harmoniously with the tartness of lemon juice and the sweetness of simple syrup, achieving a perfectly balanced sweet and sour profile.
The whisky itself is not worth the high price point. It's by no means a bad whisky, but too expensive for what you get. Depending on your point of view, the packaging alone could be worth it, though.
The Samurai armor on the bottle will definitely stand out on your bar shelf. If you can get it at a reasonable price, it will make for a visually striking addition to your collection.