Nikka Pure Malt White, like the Pure Malt Black, is a blended malt consisting of liquid from the Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries… but this time, including a healthy dose of peated Scotch whisky.
No concrete word on exactly which Scotch distillery is lending their liquid to the mix, but rumours have been flying around about Caol Ila, which instantly got my attention. Given how much I’ve enjoyed Nikka’s other blends, I leapt at the opportunity to pour a glass and get huffing:
No beating around the bush – immediately there’s peat on the nose. About Talisker levels of crisp, moderate peaty goodness. Really great. Grassy, salty and fairly sweet – like golden syrup. Tropical fruit, bananas. And then, just as it was winning me over, a sharp face-curdling cornflakes smell.
Again the peat takes centre stage, but not overpoweringly so. There’s a strange initial taste of… soap, worryingly. An aromatic, floral flavour that reminds me a lot of the smell of face-wash. Or deodorant. Not necessarily bad, but odd against the smoky backdrop. Then rich fruit, burnt matches, turkish delight. Oranges. Pears. Jelly babies. And a very soft sherry note in the dark recesses right at the back, barely noticeable. On the finish that soap taste really lingers, unfortunately.
Ouch, instantly drowned. Soapy, floral and fairly unpleasant. Avoid water!
To be honest I’m not quite sure what this whisky is trying to “do”. I can’t tell whether Nikka Pure Malt White is trying too hard, or not enough, or whether this is just a blending problem. Regardless, the mixture of rich fruit, cornflakes, intense sweetness, negligible sherry and zesty peat make this slightly uncomfortable, the flavours bouncing around awkwardly. And that’s before the irritating deodorant taste which intrudes every now and again.
In terms of its Nikka brethren, I far preferred the Pure Malt Black (and the majestic From the Barrel). They’re also rich and complex, but their intense fruity flavours come together effortlessly by comparison.
If you’re looking for a mild-to-moderate peat fix, there are Scotch single malts that will nail it at a fraction of the price. Cough, Talisker, cough, Highland Park. Even Johnnie Walker Double Black would serve most people better, I think.
It’s a good whisky. But I can’t think of an opportunity where I’d leap at the opportunity to pick this up over something significantly cheaper and with a much better sense of direction!