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Yoichi single malt, Nikka whisky – 45% ABV

Overall rating: 5/5

Nikka Whisky has been distilling spirits since 1940, after the company's founder, Masataka Taketsuru, apprenticed at whisky distilleries in Scotland. As a result, the distillery seems to exude the 'one eye on the past, one foot in the future' attitude that has come to define Japanese whisky.

Its single malt is made at the company's Yoichi distillery in northern Japan, a location chosen for its climate; cool, crisp and with an appropriate humidity level, the region closely replicates Scotland's temperature. You can almost taste the Scottish influence in the dram, but it has a Japanese flavour profile.

On the nose there's gentle peat smoke and caramelised citrus fruits, and the palate carries the peat and fruit through, with melon and fresh apple the most notable flavours. Ground nuts also make an appearance, as well as an underlying ginger-tinged spice and a marzipan background.

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The finish is long, satisfying and silky-smooth. Orchard fruits dominate the final taste of the whisky – apples and pears are underpinned by a mature, salty quality that balances the sweetness.

Overall, this is one of Japan’s top whiskies. It's a perfect introduction to the region's whisky, as it exemplifies its best qualities.

The added peat smoke in this single malt highlights the Scottish influence at the heart of Nikka’s range, and when combined with the fruit that dominates the Japanese whisky industry, it becomes a well-balanced classic.

Makes the perfect whisky gift for...

...the youthful enthusiast. Granddad may be stuck in his ways, but a millennial whisky drinker will fall head-over-heels for this unique Japanese dram.

Discover over 400 buyer's guides including the best whiskies to buy as gifts, or more reviews like the best rye whiskey in our reviews section.

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This review was last updated in October 2019. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at For information on alcohol guidelines, read our guide to drinking responsibly.

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