Single malt whisky - tasting notes

07 Feb 2012

Nikka Yoichi 20 years

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in * Japan

Nikka Yoichi 20 years old has an excellent reputation. Most of this is based on the 20yo vintage releases like the 1987/2007 which won the 2008 World Whiskies Awards. Even the WWA website is still mixing it up with the regular (non-vintage) 20 years old that we’re trying today. But anyway, the regular 20 year-old is still pretty great. It’s the oldest member of the single malt Yoichi core range.


Nikka Yoichi 20 yearsNikka Yoichi 20 yo
(52%, OB 2008, 22G10B)

Nose: big notes of cedar wood up front. Cigar boxes. Tobacco leaves. Old leather. Nice to see there’s also an estery note (nail polish) but this fades away quickly. Dark forest fruits remain. After that, some earthy smoke, burnt cake and a little tar. Hints of dried mushrooms and soft spices. Incense as well. Light matchstick notes from the sherry. Excellent complexity and typically Japanese. Mouth: punchy (bordering on pungent). Again quite savoury and leathery. Walnuts and roasted pecans. Deep, earthy peat smoke. Pepper, liquorice, anise, a pinch of salt. In the background a strong bitter-sweet harmony of burnt fruit cake and dark chocolate. Slightly sourish tobacco leaves. Finish: very long, smoky and chocolaty with traces of dry oak.

It’s a delicious and uniquely Japanese profile, but for some people it might be too extreme in its earthy savouriness. I love it though. Around € 230 for recent batches. Thanks Joeri!

Score: 91/100

Nikka Yoichi 20 years 4.5 Ruben Luyten 2012-02-07
  • bakerman

    Great stuff! I tried once and loved it!

    With this one I am particulary surprised how all the tasting notes vary (from better noses like mine). My sample definitely tastes strong “seaweedy”, spicy-woody and slightly smoky (peaty-woody if you want to make it short) while others seems more to focus on sherry , nutty and toffee notes (winey-woody).

    Curious if anybody has tried different batches and can confirm/ negate?

  • Ruben

    Indeed I noted the same thing. Some people think their dram was wrecked by sulphur while I couldn’t say it was bad in this respect. It could be due to batch variation but also due to its huge complexity – if there’s a lot to nose and taste, then we may simply focus on other things.

  • joeri

    You forgot to mention ‘honey’. A lot of honey :-)

    (And special thanks to Danny E for the bottle trade. I like this one too. A unique profile)



March 2015
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1751 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.