Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 26th October 2015
93/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
79/100 – Whiskybase (from 18 member votes)
The ‘Super Nikka’ blend popped onto my radar when I noticed its excellent score in the Whisky Bible. It became more interesting when I couldn’t find it anywhere in the UK and various places said it had been discontinued. When I visited my local Whisky Shop they said they are constantly being asked for Japanese whisky and the popularity is exceeding their supply. Not only single malts but blends are vanishing off the shelves. You have to think this craze is a passing phase but will there be any Super Nikka left when it ends?
Thankfully several online shops in Holland and across Europe have bottles of the Super Nikka and at a very reasonable price too. Although 79/100 on Whiskybase is nothing more than a ‘good’ whisky by their standards it’s Jim Murray’s 93/100 in his Whisky Bible that makes the ‘Super’ stand out. 93/100 classifies this Japanese blend as “brilliant” and Mr Murray remarks “a very, very fine blend which makes no apology whatsoever for the peaty complexity of Yoichi malt. Now, with less caramel, it’s pretty classy stuff. However, Nikka being Nikka you might find the occasional bottling that is entirely devoid of peat, more honeyed and lighter in style (89/100 – no less a quality turn, obviously). Either way, an absolutely brilliant day-to-day, anytime, any place dram. One of the true 24-carat, super nova commonplace blends not just in Japan, but in the world.” Who wouldn’t want a bottle of Super Nikka after a review like that?!
Unfortunately I bought this Super Nikka with my collector’s hat on before an online auction in December 2015 where a bottle sold for a measly £18.50. The month before in the same auction site a bottle went for £52.50, such is the up and down nature of the desire for Japanese whisky. Heck, I might just have to drink it instead of treating it as an investment! I’m curious to see if I have a peated or unpeated version.
Here’s Whisky.com with their You Tube review (August 2016):
Posted in Nikka (Japan)
Tagged 43%, 70cl, Blend, Holland, Japan, Japanese, NAS, Nikka, Nikka (Japan), Rare Old, Super Nikka, Whiskysite, Yoichi
Bought: C Gar Ltd, 5th August 2015
89.19/100 – Whiskybase (average from 18 member votes)
In mid-September 2015 I was chatting with a member of staff at the ‘World of Whisky’ shop in Gatwick Airport about Rosebank. He said he’d spoken to somebody ‘in the know’ that was involved in the redevelopment of the distillery. Although it was mothballed in 1993 the Rosebank buildings still exist (you can see them on Google Street View with the postcode FK1 5BX). As a collector I’m not overly happy about spending good money on a closed distillery bottle only to find out it’s opening up again. Conversely, with my drinker’s hat on it would be great news! Sadly, it doesn’t appear to be true. Arran Brewery got involved in a redevelopment plan for the distillery site in 2012 but pulled out in 2014. Whether the resulting whisky could have been called ‘Rosebank’ is debatable since I believe Diageo still own the Rosebank trademark (according to Wikipedia).
Over 89/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score for this 24-year-old Rosebank by the independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail (G&M). The previous year’s release distilled in 1989 scores 87.56/100 from 11 member votes. This same bottle is reviewed by Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2015, which he scores 85.5/100. According to his classification that makes it a ‘very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying’.
I’m posting this blog on the very same day that the Whisky Bible 2016 is due for release. If Jim Murray has included a review for this bottle I’ll come back to add an update. [Sadly he never did, and it’s not in the 2017 Bible either]
Bought: The Whisky Shop, 18th November 2014
79/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
77.76/100 – Whiskybase (average from 146 member votes)
Another whisky bought because I like the bottle shape. If I’d checked the reviews first I might have talked myself out of it. All Jim Murray says in his Whisky Bible is “not rare enough” and his score of 79/100 ranks this malt as “average and usually pleasant though sometimes flawed”.
I’m a bit reluctant to include the score from Whiskybase because one member rates this Mortlach 19/100 with the comment “bargain”. That sounds like a complement, which suggests the 19 was a mistake (perhaps they meant 91?). Now there have been 146 votes, nearly 78/100 is probably fair. Comments include “plain and simple”, “very average quality. Way too expensive for what you get”, “all in all nothing offensive but quite underwhelming” and “a surprising character. The tastes and smells are well integrated and play off of each other well.”
In defence of this non aged-statement Mortlach, it scores 4/5 stars on The Whisky Exchange from 8 reviews, and 4/5 on Master of Malt from 5 votes, suggesting it’s not as bad as initial ratings imply, but these still equate to 80/100 so similar to the Whisky Bible and Whiskybase.
Perhaps not a whisky to wow the taste buds but if you like having your booze on display, the bottle is certainly very aesthetically pleasing. I’m sure I’ll have this Mortlach sitting on a shelf for many years, looking good and gathering dust. Then in 30 years when it’s genuinely rare and definitely old, I’ll drink it!
Here’s Ben of ‘A Dram A Day’ with his thoughts about the Rare Old on YouTube (December 2016):