Nikka has been introducing its Coffey grain on to the market for some time (2003 is the earlier bottling I can find), but up until 2012, these were all single cask expressions. Nikka Coffey Grain was introduced as part of the company’s drive to introduce its whiskies to a broader audience – specifically, the grain whisky which is at the heart of many of their most famous blends. Shortly after the introduction of the Coffey Grain, Nikka discontinued all of its aged-statement single malt whiskies as well as a variety of their blends – however, this bottling, as a relatively young expression has remained available.
Introduced in 2014, Nikka Coffey Malt represents an unusual use of their continuous still – normally reserved for the production of grain whisky, the Coffey stills at Miyagikyo are occasionally fired up to produce a run using malted barley. The Coffey Malt is one of the results of this. It’s bottle that I often reach for when I have a someone brand new to whisky in the bar – whilst, arguably unusual, the combination of flavours and generally light character often proves pleasing to those yet to be introduced to the wider wonders of whisky – particular the fuller and peatier expressions. It’s also commonly available and relatively reasonably priced – two things which can be important when making first introductions.
When Masataka Taketsuru went searching for the location of the second Nikka distillery his adoptive son Takeshi took him to a potential site near the city of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture. Arriving in the foggy glen-like location he made himself a mizuwari using Black Nikka blended whisky and the water from the location's river - the Nikkawa (Nikka River). He loved the taste of the water with his whisky and found the name of the river to be beyond coincidence. The scouting party didn't visit any more potential sites. Sendai distillery was built on this location.