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.
Nose: An interesting and slightly unusual nose. Lots of butter and bakery aromas mix with corn – there’s something of a hint of bourbon here. Honey and yellow fruits provide sweetness (lots of it) – melons and bananas in particular. There’s a slightly solvent-like edge that reminds me of Airfix model glue. Woodiness comes through nicely and combined with a pinch of nutmeg for spice.
Taste: A light but reasonably mouth-coating arrival. Again, it’s somewhat bourbon-like – caramel, butterscotch and light vanilla join peaches and bananas and sweetened corns. Underneath there’s a pleasant chocolate flavour, and it pains me to say coffee, but coffee is there too. Again nutmeg in terms of light spicing. It’s all rather sweet, but not quite into the realms of saccharine.
Finish: Short to medium and emphasising chocolate and sweet fruits.
Nikka Coffey Malt is certainly a touch unusual, but it’s also easy-going and quite fruity. Not the world’s most complex whisky, but there’s certainly enough going on, and going on well to find enjoyment here. Elements of this remind me of a hybrid between Irish pot still whiskey and a very light bourbon – that’s no bad thing at all. The price of this one has increased over the last few years (it’s Japanese afterall) – it’s commonly available and can be picked up from Master of Malt for £55.84 as of writing