Photograph: Khaz

Nikka Yoichi Distillery

Of Nikka’s two malt whisky distilleries, Yoichi produces rich, peaty and masculine malt. The whisky gets its distinct aroma and body from direct heating distillation, in which the pot stills are heated with finely powdered natural coal–the traditional method that is hardly ever used today, even in Scotland.

The distillery is located in the nortern Japan about the same Latitude as the middle of New York State, Toronto Canada, Vladivostok Russia. Yoichi has three sides surrounded by mountains, and one side on the coast (Sea of Japan).

The distillery was founded in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru and is now owned by Nikka Whisky Distilling Co. Ltd. (ニッカウヰスキー株式会社, Nikka Uisukii Kabushiki Gaisha). Masataka traveled to Scotland in 1918 to learn the process of distilling Scotch whisky first-hand. In 1920 he joined a Japanese whisky company before starting Nikka in 1934.

It combines tradition with an aesthetic that only the Japanese can achieve. It has an underground water source that is filtered through peat; the best water there is for whisky production. It has its own kiln topped with traditional pagoda-shaped chimneys. The kiln was decommissioned at the beginning of the 1970s. However, its pot stills are still heated by naked flame, a traditional method that has been abandoned by most of the Scottish distilleries. They are squat and onion-shaped, and produce a rich, full-bodied alcohol. Its geographical location contributes to the complex character of this whisky, with its salty and slightly medicinal notes.

Yoichi possesses its own cooperage, and is particularly careful when selecting its barrels. Known as Hogshead, the barrels are made on-site using new oak, a practice that is becoming rarer and rarer in Scotland.

In 2008, Yoichi 20 Year Old was voted best single malt at the World Whisky Awards.

About the distillery

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