As I was making my third pass through the bourbon and whiskey sections of the liquor store, I thought to myself, “I knew I shouldn’t have put this off until the end of the month!” I should have expected that finding specific international whiskeys might prove to be difficult around here.
The clerk looked up and called to me across the store, “If you are looking for something specific, we probably don’t have it.”
A little surprised at her candor, I asked “Oh? Why do you say that?”
“Any time I see someone with that intense look in the bourbon aisle, they are looking for something special, and we usually don’t have it,” she replied.
I smiled to myself, realizing how I must have looked, pacing back and forth in front shelving, scrutinizing each and every bottle, one row at a time. In the interest of time, I decided to ask for help finding the Suntory. Suntory is the Japanese whisky that I had planned to sample this month in my Around the world in 12 whiskeys project. She walked me to the back of the store where we found the lonely shelf tag marking the place where the Suntory belonged. The shelf was empty.
The store carried one other brand of Japanese whisky, Nikka. While Suntory had garnered more votes when I asked for suggestions, Nikka had been in the list as well. They stocked both Nikka’s Coffey Grain and Coffey Malt whiskey. I quickly summoned the internet from my pocket, looked each of them up, and settled on the Coffey Malt. An interesting side note, I learned that Coffey refers to the type of still used to produce the whisky. It is named for its inventor and has nothing to do with coffee, the beverage.
I was not disappointed with my choice. The Nikka Coffey Malt whisky is delicious. At first sip, I was surprised how different it is from the varieties of bourbon and rye that I have been enjoying lately. The aroma was sweet, though, not exactly fruity. At first, I found it to be delightfully spicy, not unlike a rye. As those spicy notes subsided, the Nikka suddenly revealed an unexpected sweetness with fruit and malt overtones. Those sweet flavors then began to darken and gave way to a finish that I would place somewhere between chocolate and a caramel. If you enjoy spicy whiskeys, I recommend giving it a try.
I consider the January installment of Around the world in 12 whiskeys a success! If you decide to try Nikka’s Coffey Malt Whisky, use the button at the top of the page to follow me on twitter and let me know what you think of it!