WHY: Often considered the Pepsi of Japanese whisky to Suntory’s Coke, Nikka is Japan’s second largest whisky producer, known for its rich and layered whiskies of finesse. The Nikka Coffey Vodka is creamy and soft on the palate, neutral and clean on the finish.
HOW: Nikka's grain whisky is distilled in its famed Coffey still at Miyagikyo, having been imported from Scotland in 1963. Made with unmalted grains (corn, wheat, unmalted barley), the grain whisky is usually blended with single malt to create a blended whisky. Its this same still that produces the base spirit for the Coffey vodka and gin.
WHAT: Nikka was founded in 1940 by Masataka Taketsuru, after having overseen construction of Japan’s first whisky distillery: Yamazaki. Taketsuru was sent to Scotland in 1918 to learn about single malt production, and spent his time interning at the Hazelburn Distillery in Campbeltown. After working a ten year contract with Suntory, he left to build the Yoichi Distillery in 1934. Nikka owns and operates two distilleries: Yoichi Distillery on the island of Hokkaido, and the Miyagikyo Distillery in Sendai. In addition to single malt production, the Miyagikyo Distillery has a large Coffey column still used to make grain whisky for blending, as well as gin and vodka.