Whisky Review: Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

The Spring 2023 release of Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old was launched in commemoration of Yoichi Distillery’s designation as an “Important Cultural Property” of Japan. It also marks a return to traditional age statements for Nikka’s US portfolio and is the first age statement whisky to launch from Nikka Whisky in several years. 

“We are honored for the Yoichi Distillery to receive this designation from Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs,” says Emiko Kaji, Nikka Whisky Global Marketing and Sales General Manager. “This designation helps ensure we will pass on the history of Japanese whisky to future generations. 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.”

Masataka Taketsuru, considered to be the father of Japanese whisky, founded Nikka Whisky in 1934 after becoming the first Japanese to master whisky making while training in Scotland. The Yoichi Distillery, built that same year, was the first of Taketsuru’s two distilleries. While Yoichi stays true to traditional methods, Miyajikyo, the second distillery built in 1969, takes a more modern approach. Since 1954, Nikka Whisky has been owned by the Asahi Holdings Group

Taketsuru chose the coast of Hokkaido in Japan’s northernmost region as the location for the Yoichi Distillery for several reasons. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, this site offered the ideal humidity with crisp clean air, a cold climate, and close proximity to the sea—one of the distillery’s distinctive features—offering a plentiful water source. One can’t help but notice how similar these natural features are to those of the Scottish Highlands. 

As possibly one of the last whisky distilleries in the world to do so, Yoichi still practices the traditional Scottish method of using direct coal-fired distillation in their pot stills. Taketsuru learned this method during his training at the Longmorn Distillery in Scotland. This unique distillation process, which requires a highly skilled craftsman, allows the whisky to develop a bolder depth of character. 

Bottled at 90 proof, Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old offers a light-bodied single malt whisky experience featuring flavors such as subtle fruit, vanilla, honeysuckle, and a touch of smoke. 

“A momentous moment for Nikka Whisky, we are so excited to bring the release of Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old to the U.S.,” explains Hotaling & Co. CEO and President Dan Leese in a prepared statement. “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.”

According to the brand, production of Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old from Nikka Whisky will be “ongoing” and limited quantities will be released annually at select retailers.

Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old review

We review Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old, produced at a Japanese distillery still practicing the traditional Scottish method of using direct coal-fired distillation in their pot stills. (image via Nikka)

Tasting Notes: Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old

Vital Stats: 90 proof (45% ABV), 750 ml bottle MSRP $175. 

Appearance: Yellow gold.

Nose: Bright fruit notes hit the nose first followed by notes of honeysuckle, vanilla, lemon zest, juicy pear, yellow rose petals, and touch of fresh cut oak. 

Palate: On the palate are soft notes of warm spices, golden raisins, slightly buttery vanilla bean, mint, and very subtle hints of smoke on the backend. 

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