Japan is a nation that has always fascinated BibCup. Although we’ve yet to visit this mystical and yet futuristic land we’ve certainly tried our best to experience it from afar. From hours whiled away on Mario Kart and Final Fantasy to the (imitation) sushi that now finds its way into our lunch, Japanese culture permeates our lives in so many ways. It was with this in mind that BibCup grabbed a bottle of Nikka’s Pure Malt Black on the way home to see the old man.
When it comes to whisky BibCup’s old man is a died in the wool Islay fanatic. Laphroaig is the distillery of choice and if it’s particularly well peated then he’s a happy boy. However, he’s gone and accidentally raised a child of globalisation who fled the countryside and now lives in “that London” – so he’s gunna get given something exotic every now and then.
That sentiment highlights the beauty of “the Black”, a blended malt that looks and sounds exotic yet tastes really quite like something you might find closer to home. The little gold box first suggests all the glitzy marketing that we expect, recalling the glare of Japanese neon. But then out comes a bottle that would not look out of place in a 1950’s hospital drugs cabinet. All squat and brown and dressed in a simple label whose only decoration is a plethora of Japanese characters. That packaging hides a surprising creme caramel vanilla taste that develops into a far more complex dram than the basic label and bottle hint at. Old man BibCup seemed to hold it in some affection…although we noticed that the second dram wasn’t poured too quickly. Black seemed to have gone down if not quite like a lead balloon then certainly a tin foil one.
This lukewarm reception didn’t deter BibCup junior though. This warm and comforting whisky seemed to have travelled all the way from northern Japan to support the drinker through the trials of ‘family time’. Board games came and went (BibCup came second), photo albums were thumbed and incredibly dull stories were told with the fervour of a zealot. Throughout BibCup sipped the Black and felt it’s soft sugary calmness soothe away the pain. It is smooth but with a spiky finish and the dark fruity notes are perfectly comforting and the peaty twist hints of whiskies prepared closer to home.
So there you go; Pure Malt Black, aka the whisky to buy as a gift for yourself when you need to justify it by using an aging family member.