Over the past five years, Japanese whisky sales have soared in the US—up nearly seven-fold according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Lately most stories surrounding the spirit involve labels being pulled back from market, as distilleries struggle to keep up with demand. Now finally some good news for fans of the category: Nikka, the number two exporter of Japanese whisky into the US, just announced the release of a new series of the liquid, finished in apple brandy barrels. Last Friday, the first reports emerged of its imminent arrival in the UK. Now Forbes can confirm that the bottles will be headed for American shelves later in the year. Here are the details so far.

Nikka owns two main facilities: Yoichi, outside of Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido, and Miyagikyo near the city of Sendai. Both distilleries produce wildly different distillate with idiosyncratic characteristics all their own. And whisky from each location forms the base of the two respective releases in this series, where non-age statement single malt was laid down in ex-brandy casks for a final six months of maturation. The additional cooperage imbues the resulting liquid with a rich and fruity top-note.

Yoichi Apple Brandy Finish tempers underlying peat elements with a nose of freshly-baked orchard fruit. Smoked pear and candied apple emerge on the palate. Miyagikyo Apple Brandy Finish, by comparison, offers more vanilla and honeyed aromatics. There’s also a floral, tea-like sensation attached to its creamier mouthfeel.

The releases commemorate the 100th wedding anniversary of company founder Masataka Taketsuru and Rita Cowan. And the specific fruit involved in its production carries a special significance. After 1934, as they were waiting for their first batch of whisky to mature at Yoichi, the couple started selling apple juice and jam as an alternative revenue stream. Today, the fruit persists as an auspicious symbol for what has evolved into one of the world’s leading whisky makers.

Both releases will clock in at 94-proof and are set to retail for approximately $250 a bottle. You can expect that cost to jump quite considerably once allocations are limited to the secondary market. A spokesperson for the brand declined to comment on when the bottles will officially be released stateside. But you can likely expect to see them by fall. In supremely limited quantities, of course. Would you expect anything else from Japanese whisky?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.