The Nikka Miyagikyo (NAS) Single Malt Japanese Whisky opens with goat haunches stewed in sherry with mushrooms, burgundy, and sage. We got also smudge sticks wielded by teenagers living on the Pacific Rim, the inside of an old atlas stored in the attic, and a janitor’s mop that dried out in the basement. Arabesques of lemon-inflected ammonia repel swamp gas effluences. There’s charcoal, too, but of the sort used in an aquarium filter for a school of pacifist Betta fish, aka the pla-kad (Thai) or trey krem (Khmer). Calm, but with the prospect of violence. Off-putting, but intriguing.
In scornful contrast, the mouth is super-smooth, almost frictionless, an ivory Chashaku tea scoop expertly sanded by a National Living Treasure using fluid, graceful motions. It’s balanced, too, like Zen jenga masters achieving Kenshō via building 37-floor towers. It’s drinking quartz crystals and chrysanthemums, green tea and icicles, turtles and impish mischievousness.
The finish brings holiday fireworks, dolorous notes written—but never sent—to a lover who jilted you, memories of days of wine and white roses, and licking the inside of a sun-warmed, still salted and silty, clam shell (sans clam). It’s as wistful as writing a haiku in the sand at sunset and watching the tide wash it away as the moon rises. Cherry blossom petals stirred by the breeze.
On the scale of haikus Bashō never wrote–
The Nikka Miyagikyo (NAS) Single Malt Japanese Whisky is
Cold shallow water
Snow crane stands on one leg
–Our thanks to Nikka and Anchor Distilling for the sample!