Update; June 3, 2009: What was all the fuss about? Read a bit further down this updated post and you will find that this whisky was pronounced the best single malt in the world in 2008. Serge Valentin begs to differ.
The reason I always read Serge's reviews is that he actually knows what he is talking about . Perhaps more importantly, he also knows what he likes. So many people follow the herd. Visit Serge`s website, the definitive Whiskyfun.com:
" Yoichi 1987/2007 (55%, OB, 2000 bottles)
This one won the 2008 World Whisky Awards prize for the best single malt whisky in the world, it was about time we tried it! Rumours say that there’s been subsequent bottlings after the Award but no idea if this is true. I have seen two different labels. [Nonjatta: This is true. There was at least one subsequent bottling and one new label]. This sample was gathered early in 2008 so it should be the original version.
Nose: Straight peat smoke and mocha at first nosing, then more Virginia tobacco, old wooden furniture, burning beeswax (candle), new tyre and new leather jacket. Hints of smoked tea as well (lapsang soochong) and just a little seawater. Very nice, rather compact. With water: more of the same, with even bigger notes of newly tanned leather but otherwise no further development. Actually, it falls down a bit after a few minutes, really losing steam.
Mouth (neat): We’re more or less in the same category as the other 1987, only more aggressive and lemony. Notes of Limoncello and a little nutmeg. With water: now it has got really, really good. Perfect balance between the peat, the spices, the dried fruits and the various other phenolic notes. Quite a lot of buttered caramel.
Finish: Long, getting a tad grassy and drying now.
Comments: Very good Yoichi (of course) but some parts are nicer than others. What is sure is that there are better Yoichis – in my book! SGP:364 - 85 points." (Serge`s scoring system is explained on this page.)
With all that fuss over Ginkgo, I nearly forgot Nikka`s annual "vintage" bottling. At about this time every winter they release a limited edition single malt of whisky distilled 20 years previously. This year`s version is now available in the Nikka online store. It is also on the Japanese high street and La Maison du Whisky, who handle the company`s European business, say 10 cases are being shipped to them. (By the way, La Maison are running a tasty looking competition, closing January 21, for a trip to Japan. Hooray! Only for residents in France though. Boo!)
Nikka are selling 2,000 bottles of the "1987" edition, four times more than the initial bottling of "1986" last year. Demand was such for "1986" that they had to drain the casks for a second 430 bottle release in May, hence the expansion.
Alcohol: 55 per cent
Price 20,000 yen (on sale here)