April Whisky of the Month:
We got in quick with the Miyagikyo 12 Years Old. This stellar malt, along with all other age-statement Nikka malts, was discontinued mere weeks after we had our hands on it and prices tripled overnight. Join The Club now for exclusive access to more exciting drams like this each month and great member perks.
Country of Origin:
Nikka Whisky History:
The Miyagikyo Distillery is owned by the Nikka Whisky company. The story of Nikka Whisky, and indeed that of Japanese whisky, begins with a remarkable man called Masataka Taketsuru, famously known as the father of Japanese whisky. Born in 1894 to a family of saké producers, Taketsuru was working for an Osaka based spirits manufacturer called Settsu Shuzo Company, when, at the age of 25, he was chosen to travel to Scotland and try learn how to make proper Scotch whisky. Such was the appetite for Scotch whisky in Japan in those days, that this mission was regarded as critical. Arriving in Glasgow in April 1919, the young man set about door knocking the Speyside distilleries in the hope that someone would give him an apprenticeship. He was well received, and after stints at Longmorn, Bo’ness and Hazelburn he returned to Japan in 1920 newly married with a Scottish wife and armed with sufficient knowledge to start making proper Scotch style whisky.
In 1922, Masataka left Settsu Shuzo Company after their plan to make Scotch was abandoned and joined Suntory on a 10 year contract to establish the Yamazaki distillery. However, he always knew that to make whisky the way he wanted to, he would have to become independent, and in 1934 he left Suntory to establish Nikka Whisky and built the Yoichi Distillery. The first Nikka Whisky was released 6 years later in 1940. Masataka Taketsuru would spend the rest of his life dedicated to honouring the development of whisky in Japan becoming known forever more as ‘the father of Japanese whisky’.
About Miyagikyo Distillery:
Completed in 1967, the Miyagikyo distillery is Nikka Whisky’s second distillery and is located near the city of Sendia in the Tohuku region. Travelling in the area one day, Masataka came upon a site completely enclosed by mountains and sandwiched between two rivers and immediately knew that it was perfect for a whisky distillery. Miyagikyo has an ideal climate for whisky maturation with pure air, high humidity and abundant underground water filtered through a layer of peat. It bears a striking resemblance to the Cairngorms region of Scotland and many joke that only the cherry trees are a reminder that the distillery is in fact thousands of miles from the highlands. The distillery was firstly named as Sendai, then changed to Sakunami before being changed to Miyagikyo in 2001 and you’ll find it under Sendai in the Whisky Bible.
Miyagikyo is unique in that it produces both single malt and grain whisky, and is equipped with eight pot stills to produce the former ,and two sets of Coffey stills for the latter. Miyagikyo’s pot stills have fatter bases, longer necks, smaller condensers and are steam heated, helping to produce the soft mild malts that it has become famous for. The Miyagikyo 12 Years Old bottling offers a fuller bodied and even more complex expression than the NAS and the 10 Years Old, while remaining true to the elegant character of this distillery’s malts, revealing spicy and floral notes behind a remarkable purity of fruit.
Age on release:
Aged for a minimum of twelve years in ex-Sherry cask.
Miyagikyo quick facts
Place of origin: Nitsuka, 1, Aoba-ku, Sendai-shi, 989-3433 Miyagi-ken, Japan
Water source: Nikkawa River
Number of stills: 8 pot stills and 2 sets of Coffey stills
Capacity: 5 million litres of alcohol per annum
Colour: Intense amber with glimmering gold
Nose: Burnt toffee, young hay, candied winter spice
Palate: Initial crunch of apples and pear accompanied with vanilla and cinnamon. Well balanced heat and dryness spreading throughout the mouth with relatively light weight on the palate
Finish: Medium length, green tea, followed by aromas of caramel and butter
Lamb chops with pear and kiwi salsa