Nikka Age Statement Whiskey Returns to US
by David Klemt
Operators with robust whisky programs, their guests, and collectors will recall what happened back in 2015. That was the year that Nikka’s Yoichi age statement whisky line was shelved. The Yoichi portfolio’s stars—10, 12, 15 and 20 Year Old whiskies—were replaced by an expression labeled “No Age Statement.”
Interestingly, we can trace the withdrawal of age-statement Japanese whisky and disappearance of iconic bottles to the 1980s. In response to a slowdown in demand, Japanese distillers reduced production. While that move helped deal with the drop in demand and sales, there would be consequences decades later.
Eventually, the world discovered some of the most iconic whiskies on the planet: Hibiki 12 and 17, Yamazaki 12 and 18, and the aforementioned Yoichi 15 and 20.
Of course, the rabid demand for Japanese age statement whiskies resulted in an extinction event, of sorts. The reduced production that gave the world some of the most amazing luxury whiskies ever known, coupled with intense (and likely unforeseen) demand, eventually put distilleries in dire straits.
Simply put, Japanese distillers needed time to replenish their precious liquids. So, for several years, whisky lovers have been waiting for new aged-statement whiskies from Japan. Around 2017, articles and blog posts started sounding the alarm. Whisky experts told us we’d have to wait at least five years to see the return of age-statement expressions. And, as Nikka’s announcement shows, they were right.
To be clear, no-age-statement expressions have proven themselves compelling portfolio-mates during our wait. However, seeing a bonafide return to age statement whiskies is exciting.
Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old
Not only is Nikka returning to age statements, they’re paying tribute with this 10-year-old release, a brand-new addition to the portfolio. Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old commemorates Yoichi Distillery attaining “Important Cultural Properties” status.
More specifically, ten buildings on the grounds of Yoichi Distillery earned this important designation. Ten buildings, ten years of aging.
“We are honored for the Yoichi Distillery to receive this designation from Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. This designation helps ensure we will pass on the history of Japanese whisky to future generations,” says Emiko Kaji, Nikka Whisky global marketing and sales general manager. “To celebrate this special honor, we welcomed the return of Nikka Whisky aged statements and released the Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old, a new expression created by the current blenders.”
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This new, 45-percent ABV expression will be available in limited quantities. However, Nikka says the production will be “ongoing” and release on an annual basis. The suggested retail price is $175.
“A momentous moment for Nikka Whisky, we are so excited to bring the release of Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old to the US,” says Dan Leese, CEO and president of Hotaling & Co. “As Nikka Whisky looks to celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2024, this release is a testament to their historical significance in the world of whisky and a preview of what’s to come as they continue to build and enrich their traditional range.”
Momentous, indeed. I’m eager to see more age-statement expressions become available throughout North America. Yoichi 10 is a fantastic start.
Image: Nikka Whisky