Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Review

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Review

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is named after the style of still used to create this whiskey and with it’s 95% corn mashbill it could have been labeled as bourbon… if it were distilled in the USA and aged in new charred oak barrels (among other requirements). Distilled at the Miyagikyo distillery, Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is the grain whisky component in Nikka’s blended whiskies like the Super Nikka, From The Barrel and Tsuru 17. The only one of that group available in the USA however is the NIkka From The Barrel which I haven’t had the opportunity to try yet, but is definitely on my list of whiskies to try in 2016.

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Info

Region: Honshu, Japan

Distiller: Nikka
Mashbill: 95% corn, 5% malted barley
Age: NAS
ABV: 45%

Price: $80

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Review

EYE
Light amber

NOSE
Sweet and sticky with notes of caramel, vanilla, nuts, fruit and fresh hay. No real depth to speak of but not a bad aroma all in all.

PALATE
Dark sweets, grains, nuts, spice and a light bit of smoke that reminds me of mesquite bbq. Like the nose it’s not very complex, but it’s pleasant.

FINISH
Medium fade of caramel, toasted bread, char and smoked ham.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
It’s not unbalanced, has a medium-light body and a soft watery feel.

OVERALL
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is pleasant enough that I wouldn’t mind having a glass from time to time, but it’s not complex enough that I’d want it as a daily drinker. More like an interesting diversion to break up my typical go-tos. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it mind you, just that it’s a light whisky that contains no real dimension to it. The most interesting thing about it is the light mesquite-like smoke that registers on the palate.

My biggest complaint with the Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky however isn’t the lightness, it’s a grain whisky so that’s kind of its MO, but its price. Here in Los Angeles this whisky jumps around from as low as $70 to as high as $110 and frankly it just isn’t worth it.

It’s young grain whisky and should be sitting on the shelves for a much more reasonable price, but because it’s from Japan there’s a huge premium on it. Especially in less scrupulous stores, the kind that that have the entire BTAC lineup on the shelf because they’ve priced them at or above secondary. So if you’re considering a bottle be wary, this is one whisky you definitely want to steer clear of trend surfing shops when looking for it at a “reasonable” price.

SCORE: 80/100

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 80
  • Palate - 81
  • Finish - 80
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 79

Summary

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is a young grain whisky that’s over-priced because it’s one of the handful of Nikka whiskies available in the USA after Nikka cleaned house and cut their age-stated whiskies.

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Label

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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11 Responses to Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Review

  1. A fair review Josh, thanks. I agree, this is not an every day dram – but a good choice for something light and different, or as an introduction to whisky for newcomers.

    I picked this one up when flying through Tokyo a couple of months ago – for ~$45 USD at the airport duty free. 🙂

  2. Hi Josh, I’ve been reading and enjoying your reviews for a little while now, I have often also tried to source the whiskey’s you are grading high, such as Smooth Ambler or Russell’s reserve, but to my palate you are being a bit tough on this one. I am coming from a more Single Malt kind of approach and I have enjoyed this whisky, as well as his brother the Nikka Coffey Malt, very much. True not an every day drink, but all the people I have shared my bottle with were positively impressed. Cheers, Yves

    • Cheers Yves. I haven’t had the coffey malt yet, but it’s one I definitely want to try. I’d like to pick up a bottle of this if I can find it for a reasonable price and see how it evolves over time. Maybe someday.

      cheers!

  3. […] Nikka Coffey Grain … is pleasant enough that I wouldn’t mind having a glass from time to time, but it’s not complex enough that I’d want it as a daily drinker. More like an interesting diversion to break up my typical go-tos. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it mind you, just that it’s a light whisky that contains no real dimension… […]

  4. Hi Josh,
    I’m an Englishman living here in Tokyo – Japan has to be whisk(e)y heaven if you like variety: scotch, Irish, American and of course all the different Japanese ones that never make it abroad, and the prices are great, especially compared to the UK.

    I bought a a bottle of both of these last year and definitely preferred the Coffey Malt which had a good deal more body and depth of flavour. I found the Coffey Grain a bit simplistic. The prices for both of these even here in Japan is pretty steep though. I paid around 5000 yen (circa $45) each last year, but noticed that the price now has gone up to 6000 yen ($53).

    Overall, neither is worth paying that much for. For comparison, I pay 4000 yen ($35) for a bottle of my regular favourite Ardbeg 10 YO.

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