Masataka Taketsuru, seen as the father of Japanese whisky, was born in 1894 into a family that had been sake producers since 1733. After training as a chemist, he was hired by an Osaka-based company, Settsu Shuzo, which was planning to produce a Japanese whisky. The young Taketsuru was therefore sent to Scotland in 1919 in order to acquire the necessary technical knowledge and a minimum of experience. He studied at Glasgow University, also learning about the art of blending and distilling. He quickly became passionate about this Celtic spirit, and decided to devote his life to it. His dream was to create a malt distillery in Japan. When he returned to Japan in 1920, he realised that the project for which he had been recruited was not going to see the light of day. And, following the 1922 stock market crash, he lost his job. A year later, he joined the Kotobukiya group, for which he built a distillery close to Kyoto. This is how he became the father of the very first Japanese whisky in 1924.
Gold in colour with amber hue. The bouquet shows sweet corn syrup note of the Nikka Coffey Grain, but with even more caramel and vanilla. Definitely a malty aroma as well, reflecting the malt whisky component. Some lighter fruits, like pear and green apple. There is also a light smokey note, similar to the old Taketsuru 12. The Coffey Grain definitely takes a back seat here – there are a lot of woody and malt characteristics, with enhanced caramel/vanilla flavours up-front. These are balanced by a slight bitterness, and something slightly tannic, like black tea. Nice rich texture and mouth feel, very creamy. There is a definite spicy/peppery component that comes to the fore. The smoke re-appears at the end, and literally wafts up the back as you swallow. The finish is moderately long, with lingering cinnamon and cloves. There is both a subtle sweetness and bitterness to the finish – like candied ginger.