Three Whiskies to Keep at the Office

At Inventum we are not shy about our love for expensive whiskey, particularly expensive Japanese whiskey. Our clients usually realize soon that the life blood that flows through Inventum is indeed Nikka Coffee Malt Whiskey. Let’s face it, a late night the office is only as smooth as the whiskey that accompanies it.

The regions of Scotland are a diverse mosaic of whisky flavors, notes, and hues. Some honey and sweet, others smoky and peaty. Regarded as the Spartans of whiskey, Scotsmen went on to sweep whisky competitions with their Scotch. Yet in 2001 for the first time ever a Japanese whisky won Whisky Magazine’s top international prize–“Best of the Best”. Suntory, a Japanese brewer and distiller, won gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge every year since 2003. Whisky Magazine’s blind taste tests repeatedly awarded Japanese single malts. At the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, at the World Whisky awards in Glasgow, all over the world Japan collected awards beating out Scotland and Ireland and America.

Nikka Coffey Malt

Not to be confused with the Nikka Coffey Grain, this bottle is 90 proof and and will cost you 80 dollars. Being very different from the Coffey Grain, with a greater initial impression, this whisky is made in Coffey stills (a column still, not a pot still) in the Miyagikyo distillery and uses 100% malted barley as its base. The nose is all tinned peach, tropical fruit juice, and baked banana, with a surprising green celery note, coconut, and sherbet. The palate is silky, with some chocolate, biscuity oak, and orange blossom honey. Water brings those green notes forward to add freshness to the peach cobbler sweetness. The palate continues the theme. Some of the sweet and chocolate notes linger, along with a slight creamy bitterness (i.e., cappuccino). The finish is a touch more complex, layering in some chocolate raisin notes and a heavier coconut component. While it doesn’t break from the sweet stuff, it does take things out on a more interesting note than the relatively straightforward flavors of the palate.

Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt

This is a blended malt named in honor of Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky. He is the first Japanese who mastered whisky-making in Scotland and produced the genuine whisky in Japan. At 80 proof and 65 dollars a bottle, this whiskey is aged on average for around 10 years in a variety of different cask types, including some sherry wood for extra richness. On the nose you have pear, orange and a touch of that syrupy fruit cocktail mix from the can. Vaguely floral too. White chocolate and vanilla cake, basically vanilla frosting like. Not a complex malt, but very well-composed and infinitely drinkable. This is a quite round and mouth-filling whisky, big and bold with lots of character. Malty grain is the major component — lots of fresh, apple-infused barley, and a body that reminds me of sweetened breakfast cereal. Less fruity pebbles and more Corn Pops. The finish is reminiscent of honey with very mild smoke, to the tune of a Highland malt. Excellent balance of sugar and grain on the finish. This is an excellent everyday malt if you wish to dabble in the wonderful world of Japanese Whiskey.

Kavalan Concertmaster — Port Cask Finish

The Taiwanese do it better than the Scots these days,” states Chuck Rhoades, the character portrayed by Paul Giamatti on the Showtime series Billions. Taiwanese whisky? That’s right. Say hello to Kavalan. Difficult to find stateside currently, this bottle is 80 proof and will cost you 110 dollars a bottle. Concertmaster won a 2013 gold from the Beverage Tasting Institute, and a 2011 silver and best in class at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.

Kavalan Concertmaster Single Malt Whisky is finished utilizing several different varieties of Port casks, including Ruby Port, Tawny Port and Vintage Port, that being the “concert.” First though, Concertmaster is aged in American oak casks. While the port-finish has become a feature of whiskey-making around the world, it often focuses on just one type of port. Two would be very unusual, and three is just unheard of. Concertmaster is a brownish gold in the glass, with a tinge of deep red breaking through. On the nose, you’ll find sweet red wine and plenty of Port. There’s chocolate, raspberry and other berry fruits, and also a lighter profile of tropical fruits and honey. It’s an inviting and diverse bouquet which gets you excited to take that first sip. Very “earthy” sweet grape flavors up front, like figs, dates, raisins, black currants — even stewed prunes. Then a dry maltiness quickly appears which makes a great contrast to the initial port-infused flavors. Mouth feel is pleasantly thick and viscous thanks to the malt. Even with the port influence you won’t find this to be overly sweet. The finish unfortunately falls flat, as if the orchard of leathery fruits just vanished. I also agree with many that the palate doesn’t necessarily match up entirely to the promise of the nose. But I still find it quite acceptable and enjoyable for a Port finished whisky. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a bottle of Taiwanese Whiskey, it’s a quite impressive add to your collection and a great conversation piece even for the bigger fans of Japanese Whiskey.