There’s no argument that the Japanese can do Whisky, but if you are a drinker of the pale spirits, then your home bar is about to get a boost.
The same level of craftsmanship that the distilleries have put into their whisky is being released in Vodka and Gin and Nikka are the latest brand to unleash their unique botanicals in Australia.
Although they have a huge reputation with Japanese Whisky, Shochu and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, this release marks the first time that Nikka’s parent company, the Asahi Group, have forayed into the worlds of Gin and Vodka.
Officially launched last year, these new releases are a testament to the time, detail and experience that the Japanese put into their spirits. The Nikka Coffey Gin is the prime example with its 11 botanicals, five of which are native to Japan.
What Is A Coffey Still
But before we get ahead of ourselves, you probably notice the word Coffey in the title. Yes, that’s right both the Gin and the vodka have been produced on Coffey Stills. The continuous-style stills were developed by Ireland’s Aeneas Coffey in 1830 and examples were imported to Japan by Nikka Whisky Distilling Company founder Masataka Taketsuru in 1963.
As Emiko Kaji, international business development manager for Nikka Whisky told the Spirits Business in an interview last year, “It’s all about taste and flavour – our Coffey distillate is our biggest asset.”
The company created the first prototype for their white spirits using the Coffey Grain distillate in 2014 and have been refining the products further over the last three years.
What Are The Botanicals In The Gin
The Gin includes the usual suspects, which include Juniper, Angelica, Coriander, Lemon Peel & Orange Peel, with the additional inclusion of Apple Juice. It is when you look at the native Japanese ingredients that the flavour becomes really interesting. These include Yuzu, Sansho Pepper, Kabosu, Amanatsu, and Shequasar.
What Is The Process
Nikka Coffey Vodka is created using a mix of malted barley and corn, which are distilled separately in the Coffey still before blending, dilution, and filtration using birch charcoal.
Similar to the vodka, the gin also uses two base spirits distilled from malted barley and corn in the Coffey still. The base spirits are then blended and used to steep three batches of botanicals, grouped into peppery flavours, citrus flavours, and more traditional flavours such as juniper.
The steeped spirits are then redistilled separately in three different types of pot stills. The resulting spirits are then blended together, along with additional malted barley and corn Coffey still distillate.
What are the characteristics?
The Vodka has subtle malty hints, though is clean and crisp, with a touch of floral sweetness.
The Gin has a creamy lemon flavour with a subtle oily element developing, which developed into an almost tropical fruit sweetness. This is well-balanced by peppercorn, pine and fennel.
Nikka’s Coffey Vodka (700ml, 40 per cent ABV, RRP $AUS85) and Nikka’s Coffey Gin (700ml, 47 per cent ABV, RRP $AUS90) are available at select premium venues and stores.