Japanese Whisky Review: Yoichi Woody & Vanillic, Sherry & Sweet

In the year 2020, it’s incredibly hard to find real Japanese whiskey that isn’t a non-age-statement and watered down to 43%. Fortunately, Nikka Yoichi (余市) still offers a few high-proof options as distillery limited exclusives that you can pickup easily at the distillery near Sapporo or on the secondary market.

Yoichi Woody & Vanillic / 55% / ¥3,300

Tasted neat, then with bottled water

Single Malt Yoichi (余市)’s most interesting stuff in Japan is currently the distillery limited bottles, which they sell in 180ml or 500ml sizes, with different cask blends to emphasize different profiles of Yoichi.

Today we have a bit of Woody & Vanillic, an oak, vanilla, and tannin-forward malt. The labelling has absolute no information about the whiskey beyond company and some legally required verbiage, but it appears to be non-chill filtered when water is added. This particular sample is batch code 02J42A.

  • Color: 1.3 (muscat)
  • Nose: grapes, dunnage warehouse, white pepper; a little campfire smoke and flowers
  • Taste: oak and pine sap, honeydew melon; peanut brittle, cornbread, and charred planks
  • Finish: pleasant, earl grey tea and fruit salad fades into vanilla domination

This is a nice little construction, a NAS blend that feels like it packs some age to it, a sense of weight and woodiness. It’s not entirely one dimensional, there is an understated fruitiness to it, and it’s very clean, medium-bodied whiskey. There’s a bit more grapeiness than I’d like.

Rating: 86/100

Yoichi Sherry & Sweet / 55% / ¥3,300

Tasted neat, then with bottled water

Moving onto the next, it is the Yoichi Sherry and Sweet, again without any descriptions on the label, but clearly supposed to be a heavier sherry cask influence. Bottle code here is 02J44C.

  • Color: auburn (1.55)
  • Nose: oloroso sherry, sulphur, plum, cigar smoke; burnt leaves, chalk dust, and sake lees
  • Taste: spice, beef jerky, stewed berries; cinnamon, dry leather, and beeswax
  • Finish: long classic sherry bomb finish, christmas cake

I find the “sweet” in the name a bit of a misnomer, because it’s actually a drier Oloroso sherry bomb. This is a bang-up competitor to something like older Glenfarclas 105, and as long as you aren’t the type to hate a little sulphur, you’ll enjoy it. It’s the perfect smoking or reading companion dram!

Rating: 89/100

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Elliott

Personal interests in literature, SF, and whisky/whiskey/scotch, Software Engineer by Trade