Nikka Days & Kanpai

Nikka, a Japanese spirits producer belonging to the Asahi Group, is now famous not only among whisky drinkers. Of course, it is especially the friends of single malts and Japanese blends who were the first to become familiar with the Nikka brand outside of Japan in the course of rising popularity of Japanese whiskies. But Nikka has also been able to make a really very good name for itself in other spirits segments, such as gin. The Nikka Coffey Gin is – as of today – still one of my absolute favorites. Nevertheless, today it is once again a whisky that is in focus. (provided test product)*

Who now thinks first of the Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky, it should be said that this one has also been reviewed here on the blog. No, today it is about a fairly new bottling in the Nikka Range: the Nikka Days. This is basically Nikka’s answer to the trend towards light easy-drinking whiskies without age statement, as they were also launched by many other manufacturers lately. So, it does not primarily (but perhaps also) aim at sworn single malt purists – if only because it’s not a single malt itself at all. Rather, it is a blend of grain and malt whiskies (there is talk here of a large number of qualities – over 100 – finding their way into the blend). The underlying spirits come from the distilleries Miyagikyo and Yoichi, which should be known to the gentle whisky drinker. With 40% vol. Nikka underlines its claim to have brought a light, uncomplicated and of course also mixable whisky to life. About more specific details on the type of barrel aging, I could unfortunately find no really reliable information.

But why is the whisky called Nikka Days? Behind it is an allusion to the Japanese way of life, to meet each day with a new openness and to appreciate the moment and the detail. On the other hand, they also want to offer a whisky “for every day” (which of course does not mean that you should drink one every day). So much now for marketing, time to give the Nikka Days a try.

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: The whisky initially shows a pleasant, floral-fruity side here. I find apples, but also pears and subtle berry tones, plus some honey and grain. The cereal notes go a bit in the direction of a cake dough, which I like. A bit of orange comes through over time.

Taste: On the palate, Nikka Days is noticeably less fruity. Cereal notes dominate here, reminiscent of breakfast cereals, along with malt, honey and roasted nuts (roasted almonds?) again. With time, however, an apple shines through, but rather a dried one with subtle notes of wood and some nutmeg. There is a minimal hint of smoke in the background, but it is fleeting at best.

Finish: medium long with tones of vanilla and again some cake dough.

Mario Kappes, who will always have a place in my cocktail heart for his iconic Professor Langnickel, has created a drink for this whisky with the simple name of “Kanpai” (when it came to finding a name for that drink, he had a little assistance of a fellow colleague). The term, which translates simply as “dry glass”, is used as a toast in Japan, although it’s better not to turn this drink into a dry glass in a second. It is a very plain long drink or highball in which the Nikka Days can develop its character.

Recipe “Kanpai” (by Mario Kappes):

4.5 cl Nikka Days
3 cl elderflower syrup (e.g. Darbo)
2 cl lemon juice
10 cl soda or mineral water

Preparation: Shake whisky, syrup and lemon juice vigorously in a shaker on ice and strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Finally, top up with soda water.

Glass: highball

Garnish: minimalist Japanese (ergo: none).

Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online

*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.

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