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Tasting Sessions

Old Vs. New, Japanese Whiskey – 01/2020

A rare opportunity, we compared old and new bottlings of two Japanese whiskies, bottled nearly 40 years apart! Which ones tasted better? Find out.

Once or twice a year, the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai and the Malt and Cigar club get together to share some of their favorite whiskies in a joint-evening. This January, the gentlemen from the Malt and Cigar club hosted us with an extraordinary theme! Hidden among the dusty shelves of some inherited whisky lay a very old Suntory Whisky Excellence (Bottled around 1979/80 to celebrate the distillery’s 80th birthday, though discontinued since 1989), and a Super Nikka Whisky (unable to find more information on its origin, please comment if you know something!). The dates and details of how they were originally bought are not available, but the idea was to compare these old bottlings of whisky with the newer versions on the market. A rare opportunity indeed!

And so, hoping these lovely whiskies withstood the test of time we opened them with fingers crossed…

Suntory Whisky Excellence – 43%
This blended malt whisky is from the Hakushu and Yamazaki distilleries in Japan. This is specially bottled in a crystal decanter and as mentioned earlier, has been sitting in the bottle for around 40 years.

Tasting Notes:

Nose:
cream caramels, custard, as well as some sharp acidity (a bit like vomit) which eventually opened up to reveal some floral notes.

Palate:
more luscious caramels but with undertones of woody biterness.

Finish:
Short, light, and woody.

Overall Impressions:
I believe this bottle deserves a second tasting (gentlemen?) after sitting open for a while. Because of the age and intense wood, I would have liked to try it with a splash of water. Alas, I arrived late and didn’t have the time before we moved on to the new version!

Hoping the newer version would have more going on, we next sampled the Suntory Old Whisky – 43% . Another blend, likely from Yamazaki, Hakushu, and some grain which I would assume is the Chita. This is a mid-level brand from Japan, and though the bottle says old, this would be a relatively new bottle using some of the older whiskies from the distilleries. there’s some info on The Whisky Exchange.


Tasting Notes:

Nose:
grape juice, blackcurrants, plum cake

Palate:
green pepper spice, anise, light orchard fruits

Finish:
continuation of the palate, warm and long, sweet

Overall Impressions:
Certainly this is more palatable than the previous one, though it is much sweeter than expected. A bit unbalanced but nice and fruity.

Onward to the Nikkas! Next we poured ourselves from of the vintage version of the Rare Old Super Nikka43% . This whisky is a blend, and from my reading contains malt from the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries and has been around since 1962. Read more about it on Whisky Analysis.

Tasting Notes:

Nose:
Cognac sweetness, grapes, creamy and caramel.

Palate:
harsh, sawdust, mothballs, acidic.

Finish:
an acidic and unfortunately long burn.

Overall Impressions:
Well, time was clearly not on this whisky’s side. It was a hard ‘No’ for us.

Finally we had to finish it off with the more recent bottling of the Rare Old Super Nikka (New)43% . This whisky is well rated as an entry-level premium Japanese whisky. Read more on The Whisky Exchange.

Tasting Notes:

Nose:
Again cognac! But lighter this time, with honey sweetness

Palate:
wood at the front, honey, green capsicum, with some acidity

Finish:
long with honey and spice

Overall Impressions:
While this is certainly leagues better than the aged bottle, this whisky is a fairly basic sipper. It calls for a casual conversation at a cocktail party, neither demanding nor offensive.

After sampling the whiskies, we poured ourselves a nice dram of something else and moved to the lounge where the Malt and Cigar club men take their, well- cigars (hence the name). Although the overall tasting did not deliver anything the words “rare” “old” or “vintage” elicit (these were NAS whiskies after all), we all felt very lucky to have had the opportunity. There was one lesson we all took away from the evening, and that’s to drink your whisky while it’s still good!

Big thanks to Jetu for providing the whiskies and the Malt and Cigar Club for hosting us.

By whiskyladiesofmumbai

A private group of women who like whisky!

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