Suntory’s first big announcement of 2021, back in January, was of two limited-edition variants on their two biggest brands: Yamazaki Limited Edition 2021 and Hibiki Blossom Harmony 2021. They were both released on May 25 and sold out almost immediately everywhere. There are allegedly 30,000 of each of these kicking around. They both had RRPs of ¥8800 (after tax, around €67 or $80), but now grace auction sites for 10x that.
Our focus here is the Hibiki Blossom Harmony.
Coldorak’s Note: today we welcome a guest author, Mac aka Kanpai Planet, who does Youtube reviews of Japanese whiskies and other Japanese drinks on his Youtube channel. Yōkoso!
The Nikka Taketsuru range is a good example of the problem Japanese whisky is facing. And I mean the true Japanese whisky, the one distilled in Japan, not the “bottle whatever and slap some Japanese kanji” fake Japanese whisky crap. As you’ve read a thousand times, there is a shortage of old Japanese whisky stocks, that is here for a long time (you can’t accelerate years, even though, and especially with 2020, you’d sometimes want to). And the demand for Japanese whisky is so high that the current production is not even enough to cover the needs. Thus, Nikka announced last year expansions for its Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries to fight shortage. But since whisky takes time to mature, the shortage will probably stay at least until 2030… And earlier this year, they sadly announced the total discontinuation of the 17, 21 and 25-year-old Nikka Taketsuru, their pure malt blend of Yoichi and Miyagikyo juices, named after the founder of the Nikka group. I won’t go into the history of Nikka and Masataka Taketsuru as I’ve briefly covered that previously on the Yoichi blind tasting I organized with friends. They also announced they would renew their NAS edition of Taketsuru, and thus today we’re going to review the old and new Nikka Taketsuru NAS, as well as the discontinued Taketsuru 21-year-old.
On Friday 22 of November, I organized a
small blind tasting with friends I had sent samples to months ago. After a few
last minutes cancellations, we were finally able to have that tasting, and the
theme was 4 Nikka Yoichi non-age-statement single malts: the classic Single
Malt one available in your usual liquor shop, and three distillery exclusives
named Woody & Vanillic, Sherry & Sweet and Peaty & Salty. I’ll come
back to it later, but tl;dr: it was a great evening, and the drams were really
good. Oh, and I said blind tasting: well, kind of. We knew what drams we were
going to taste, but had no idea of the order. Myself included. But let’s talk
about Yoichi first.
As I would reveal at the end of the tasting when everyone would have made their final guesses, the fourth and last dram we tasted was the Yoichi Single Malt Peaty & Salty. It is a distillery exclusive bottled at 55% abv, without age statement, in a 50 cl bottle. I paid 130€ on auction for this bottle including 60€ in shipping cost as the seller was from Hong-Kong.
As I would reveal at the end of the tasting when everyone would have made their final guesses, the third dram we tasted was the Yoichi Single Malt Sherry & Sweet. It is a distillery exclusive bottled at 55% abv, without age statement, in a 50 cl bottle. I paid 110€ on aution for this bottle, including 60€ of shipping cost as the seller was from Hong-Kong.
As I would reveal at the end of the tasting when everyone would have made their final guesses, the second dram we tasted was the Yoichi Single Malt NAS. It is widely available, bottled at 45% abv in a 70cl bottle. You can find it at Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange for about £75, and in France 75€ on Amazon.fr or LMDW.
During a blind tasting with friends, and as I would reveal at the end of the tasting when everyone would have made their final guesses, the first dram we tasted was the Yoichi Single Malt Woody & Vanillic. It is a distillery exclusive bottled at 55% abv, without age statement, in a 50cl bottle. I bought it for 120€ on auction, half the price being shipping as it came from a Hong-Kong seller.