Is this the cheapest single malt whisky in the world? (Update: Close, but no cigar. Good thread about this at the Whisky Magazine forums)
A bottle costs 1600 yen. It works out at £6.80 or $13.40. That is for a 500 ml bottle, rather than the more usual 700/750 ml, but we are still talking about £9.50/700 ml, a price that not even discount supermarket Lidl's astoundingly cheap own-brand single malt beats in the UK.
This is no second-rate brand either. This is a "Yoichi", arguably one of the two top Japanese single malt distilleries. It was a 10-year-old Yoichi that confirmed Japan's arrival on the international single malt scene in 2001, when it won "Best of the Best" in the Whisky Magazine annual contest. So what are Nikka doing sullying the Yoichi name with one of the cheapest single malts in the world? Who cares? Ours it but to rejoice and get straight down to the nearest supermarket to buy three bottles of the stuff before they think again (if you are lucky enough to live in Japan).
Is it any good?
Like meeting a sailor, just off his boat and out on the town. He was shaven and sweet smelling after his first bath in months but rough and ready and still redolent of the docks. Is that all a bit homoerotic? The nose was warming, with bananas and apricots and a touch of vanilla. The first taste was powerful but sweet. There was a flavour of pine but then it moved into much more maritime territory. Then soap and then a hint of ammonia at the end of a long finish. It was all quite complex and unbalanced. Same as meeting a sailor at the docks, I suppose.
Did I like it? Yes. And, at this price, I could even justify making a toddy out of it. Which was damn fine, by the way.
Abv 43 per cent
Price (April 2007)
500 ml - 1,600 yen