Nikka Launches The Nikka Nine Decades World Whisky

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Nikka Launches The Nikka Nine Decades World Whisky

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Japan’s second biggest whisky company, Nikka, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. So to commemorate the occasion, they just announced the details of an extremely limited-edition blended whisky that includes liquid that was distilled over the past nine decades, including 80-year-old single malt that dates back to the 1940s.

I had a chance to visit Yoichi, one of Nikka‘s two main distilleries (the other is Miyagikyo), this spring. Yoichi is located in the north of Japan on the island of Hokkaido, and even in mid-April there was snow piled on the ground from a recent storm, adding to the 90-year-old distillery’s already scenic atmosphere. While much has been modernized over the course of nearly a century, there are elements that remain the same: The stills continue to be fired with coal (perhaps not the most environmentally friendly fuel, it should be noted), and the signature red pagodas still line the grounds. Founder Masataka Taketsuru’s restored house sits in the midst of the distillery, the home that he shared with his Scottish wife Rita to oversee the whisky making operations. Taketsuru founded Nikka in 1934 after studying in Scotland and working at several distilleries there, ultimately bringing his craft back to Japan to launch the whisky industry—starting with building the Yamazaki distillery for Suntory. Nikka actually started out making apple juice, cider, and other products under the name Dai Nippon Kaju, but the goal at Yoichi was always to make single malt and blended whisky, and the first Nikka Whisky release arrived in 1940.

Fast forward 90 years, Nikka is known for its high-quality single malts from the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries, which produce both peated and unpeated whiskies, as well as several different blends and world whiskies that contain juice imported from other countries—mainly Ben Nevis in Scotland, which is owned by Nikka. Interestingly, the new Nikka Nine Decades actually qualifies as a world whisky and not Japanese whisky under the (still voluntary) guidelines laid out by the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association three years ago. But Nikka is transparent about this and lists information on its website about whether or not each expression meets those standards.

The liquid in this high-end world blend was distilled over the course of nearly a century, from the 1940s to the 2020s, at Nikka’s six distilleries (including Ben Nevis). There are more than 50 batches of whisky in the blend, including the oldest whiskies from Yoichi and Miyagikyo, new grain whiskies from Moji and Satsumastukas, and older grain whisky from Nishinomiya. “This is an ultimate whisky that encompasses the passion, pioneer spirit, craftsmanship, delights and struggles within Nikka,” said Emiko Kaji, Nikka Whisky global marketing and sales general manager, in a statement. “We hope that this exquisite whisky will bring satisfactory moments to whisky lovers around the world.” The Nikka Nine Decades is bottled at 48 percent ABV and is non-chill filtered.

Four thousand bottles of this special release will be available worldwide with an SRP of $3,000. Only 400 will reach the U.S., but you’ll have to wait until October to find one—the whisky launches in Japan on July 2, Nikka’s “foundation day,” but the rollout will be staggered globally over the next few months. Nikka will also host pop-ups in select cities over the coming months to promote this new whisky, with tasting flights, cocktails, and food pairings. In the meantime, you can find many other Nikka whiskies, including the superb Nikka Coffey Grain and limited-edition Aromatic Yeast, available to purchase now at ReserveBar.

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