The Nikka company was set up by one of the Godfathers of Japanese Whisky, Masataka Taketsuru. Masataka was an organic chemist and was the first Japanese man to learn to make whisky in Scotland studying at Hazelburn distillery in Campbell Town. Nikka is now one of the Japanese great producers, making a range whiskies and other spirits in two distilleries, Yoichi situated in the North Island of Hokkaido and Miyagikyo distillery in Aoba-ku, Sendai.
Yoichi distillery was established on the island of Hokkaido in 1934, in the small coastal fishing town of the same name. Hokkaido benefits from a climate closer to Scotland than anywhere else in Japan. Surrounded by mountains on three sides and sea on the other, the distillery is located to the west of Sapporo. Hokkaido is the only part of Japan to have local access to peat, and originally, the local peat bogs were the source of Yoichi's subtle smoky character, gently drying the malted barley during the kilning process.
Today, much of the peated malted barley used in production is imported from Scotland. Peat, coupled with the distillery's close proximity to the ocean leaves a lasting imprint on the Yoichi products, imparting a salty and smoky character not dissimilar to the famous Scottish malts of Islay. Yoichi's coal-fired stills, stills which are no longer present at any distillery in Scotland, remain in use to this day and add a unique flavour to the whisky and a nod to its heritage.
Nose: Warming spiciness at first, with rich, ripe stone fruit and a delicate smokiness.
Palate: The peat really kicks in on the palate, with an earthy smokiness, well supported by spicy notes from the oak. Softness arrives in the form of peach and orange notes, while a savoury nuttiness adds an extra layer of flavour.
Finish: The peat and oak dominate, with a pleasant maritime smokiness.