Nikka Whisky from the Barrel

By Neil Brotherston Thursday 11th Feb, 2016

If you’ve been reading the bar section of The Dapper Chapper for a little while now, you’ll already be aware that we are very big fans of the incredible whiskies that have been emerging from Japan and really taken Europe by storm over the last 15 or so years.

We’ve reviewed two of the leading Japanese whiskies, both from the Suntory Whisky House – Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve and our personal favourite Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve.

But Nikka Whisky from the Barrel, which is up next, has been on our radar for a very long time and is one that we’ve been sat shaking with excitement while we waited for it to arrive at Dapper Chapper HQ……to say we were expecting big things would be an understatement.

Nikka is the second largest distiller of whisky in Japan, (behind Suntory) and is made up of two distilleries – Yoichi located on the northern island of Hokkaido and Miyagikyo on the central island of Honshu.

This particular whisky is a blended combination of Malt and Grain whiskies from the above two distilleries. These are re-casked (married together) in new fill bourbon barrels and then bottled straight from the cask – resulting in a delicious 51.4% proof whisky that will really put Japanese Whisky on your radar, if you haven’t already experienced it.


To the nose, Nikka is a very punchy, strong whisky. The oak barrels that the blend was re-casked in are very apparent on the nose, along with a very prominent caramel and sherry influence.

In the mouth, Nikka comes with an equally strong punch to the taste buds as it does on the nose – which I guess is to be expected from a cask strength whisky. There are unmistakable dried fruit flavours giving it an almost Christmas cake like quality. Combined with this are continuations of the oaky notes from the nose and strong hints of spice on the back of the throat.

For such a strong whisky, taken straight from the cask, the finish of Nikka from the Barrel is surprisingly smooth, with very little burn. There is an undoubted heat on the back of the throat from the spices, which finish this whisky of perfectly.

My only gripe with Nikka from the Barrel is the bottle. We can see the look they were going for – simple, refined and understated. However, in my view they’ve slightly missed the mark on this, taking the simplicity and understated nature too far, not least due to the fact that the neck of the bottle makes pouring a little tricky.

However, that should not detract from what is a fantastic whisky and should be on every passionate whisky drinker’s list to try as an introduction to the new wave of Japanese whiskies.

So our recommendation for how to try Nikka Whisky from the Barrel is a simple one – just add a little drop of water to really open out the taste of this fantastic Japanese whisky and enjoy.

Nikka Whisky from the Barrel is available for a price of £34.95 from our good friends over at & OUR FOLLOWER CAN USE DISCOUNT CODE DAPPER10 FOR 10% OFF