Post by Nonjatta contributor Stefan of Tokyo Whisky Hub.
Nikka is one of the big players in the drinks industry here. I, for one, am very fond of most of the things they put out, their single cask releases in particular--while these have made quite a name for themselves abroad (mostly because of Nikka's ambassador/distributor in Europe, La Maison du Whisky), they kind of quietly come and go here in Japan.
There's not a big fuss on the net, and that's got just to do with the fact that they are only available through the Asahi webshop. I usually make sure I get hold of a couple of bottles before they go, because they are, without exception, superb... in my experience, at least. They've also got quite a variety in their single cask range: there's the two distilleries, of course (Yoichi and Miyagikyo); they have a wide variety of peat-levels (from unpeated to highly peated) and cask types, but one of the interesting things about these releases is that they also, from time to time, include a Coffey grain or Coffey malt single cask. (For those not familiar with the Coffey still... google's your best friend.)
To get to the point, Nikka have got their own bar in Tokyo, the Blender's Bar in Minami-Aoyama. I avoid it as the plague far various reasons: it's a pain to get to when you live on the Chuo-line (as I do) and it's rather expensive (yes, here we go again...). Those are minor points, but what really gets on my nerves is the snobbishness and aloof "dignity" masquerading a profound incompetence and lack of knowledge on the part of most of the staff. Anyway, that's just my perception so don't be deterred and go check it out for yourself. Occasionally, I make my way to the Blender's Bar for special events (tastings, blending "seminars", etc.) and I must say, with a bit of practice, it is possible to block out the surroundings and enjoy the liquid marvels on offer there.
On my last visit, I noticed something of interest on the menu - a new concoction called the "Coffey Sonic" (sounds a bit like a Britpop band name, now doesn't it). I just had to find out. Well, it's a highball of sorts with a Coffey single grain base (and a twist of lime). Sceptics might think: "What's the point of wasting grain whisky that's good enough to be bottled as a single cask on a highball?" I say, "Get out your cloak of invisibility, head on over to the Blender's Bar and order one... You'll see."
It's absolutely phenomenal!