The Nikka Coffey Malt comes from Suntory’s Miyagikyo distillery outside Sendai Japan. Coffey Malt is one of the few 100% malt whiskies distilled on a column (Coffey) still, as opposed to a pot still. Coffey Stills were the first continuous stills invented and can run continuously without needing to be reloaded every time. Continuous stills are generally used for making grain (wheat, grain, corn) whisky (e.g., bourbon) but generally not for malt whiskies due to the complexity needed.
The whisky has been a mainstay at bars until the recent uptick of whisky consumption (particularly Japanese whiskies) drove Nikka to temporarily suspend its production in 2019, presumably to release in the Japanese market only. I had even heard fears of it being completely discontinued in the US. As production ramped up, it has again started showing back up at liquor store shelves.
I’ve heard of people saying that the flavor profile of the Coffey Malt is very “coffee” but I think this was from naive misunderstanding of the name. Coffey Malt tastes nothing like coffee. It’s got strong cinnamon and caramel notes, but there are no hints of mocha that other whiskies can contain.
Review #123: Nikka Coffey Malt
- Score - 5/105/10
Nose: Honey, vanilla, malt, sugar cookies, milk chocolate
Palate: Richly malted caramel, toffee, cinnamon.
Finish: Some weird astringent oaky note. This whisky is a bit rough around the edges. After another 5 or 6 years in the barrel, this would be a legendary whisky.
- ABV: 45% ABV
- Distilled in a continuous Coffey still
About Nikka Miyagikyo
- Nikka is part of Asahi Group Holdings (you may recognize it from its beer Asahi Super Dry).
- The Miyagikyo distillery is in Sendai, north of Tokyo.
- The distillery makes both grain and malt whiskies, now including Taketsuru.