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.
Nose: Grains and solvents. Oily corns and grains join toffee and caramel and vanilla in a fairly delicate and not hugely expressive nose (the Coffey Malt has a lot more oomph to it). There’s quite a strong vein of varnish and solvent running through this one – it’s not unpleasant (unless you’re a recovering glue-sniffing addict), but does solidify the relative youth of this whisky. Fruits are presents, but a little non-descript – mangos and bananas possible, but yellow-fruits is a more apt descriptor. Delicate and light.
Taste: Immediate rawness and solvent is tempered by some more pleasant fresh corns, vanilla and caramel. There’s earthiness here – mushrooms and some light butteriness that provides a modicum of texture. Spicing is greater here than on the nose – pepper in particular.
Finish: Short and with oak and underlying earthiness.
Nikka Coffey Grain is quite a reasonable young whisky, but it’s still a touch underdone in places. There’s some enjoyable freshness and fruitiness in places, but it’s all too brief and not particularly complicated either. By no means flawed, but for personal taste I’d take the Coffey Malt every single day of the week – and it’s the same price as that - £55.84 from Master of Malt.
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