On a visit to the Nikka Blender's Bar last week, I was given a sneak preview of the Yoichi 1988, which will be officially released the day after tomorrow (not a pretaste, I hasten to add, before readers start battering me for impressions.)
The 1988 is the successor to the World`s Best Whisky award winning Yoichi 1987, so demand is sure to be hotter than a plastic car seat in August. As with all the others in this series, which is always released at this time of the year, it is a 20-year-old whisky (the age people are considered to come of age in Japan and, perhaps more relevantly, the drinking age).
It is composed of five different types of malt whiskies distilled at Yoichi and combined under the supervision of the newly installed and increasingly renowned Nikka Chief Blender, Tetsuji Hisamitsu. New cask, refilled cask, Bourbon barrel and sherry butt matured whiskies have been used. Alcohol content is 55 per cent.
Nikka describes its smell as having a honeyed richness, with blackcurrant, apricot, plum and pear notes and a strong peaty bassline. The taste is described as having a matured richness, with a burly peaty "bitter" character complicated by seaside flavours. The peatiness is still there at the finish with the sweet dried fruits flavours detected on the nose now emerging. Sounds a treat!
There will only be 3,500 bottles available, with the majority destined for the domestic market. Alexandre Vingtier of Nikka`s European agent La Maison du Whisky, says he hopes to get at least 200 bottles for Europe. Just to get a measure of the the success of this series, the 3,500 figure is 1,500 more than last year`s initial offering which was in turn four times more than the first release of the 1986 version.
It is being sold here.