ĄMy name is 'From the Barrel', coming straight out of Japan. I count no age, I look a bit odd Ė and yet more and more people begin to love me. The price is a plus, of course, and Iím stylish as hell, but the moment I touch your lips is when I really begin to shine: A strong and heavy start, a full bodied, slightly fruity halftime, and a well composed finish will hit you hard. Yes, Iím a bit different. And yes, I am that good.ď
Well, so much from the whisky itself. Confident, isnít he? 'From the Barrel' was one of my first Japanese whiskies, some years ago. Despite having been a fan of the country for my whole life, I kind of underestimated their expertise and craftmanship in terms of booze. I love their mangas and animes, crave the food and I personally feel inspired by the way people treat each other, with respect, good manners, traditions, and yet a lot of creativity. Itís a shame I havenít gone for the whisky for such a long time. In fact, I bitterly regret that. It only took a sip of two different bottles and like ten minutes of research to put Japan on my A-list right next to Scotland, Ireland and the USA. The Japanese have a long whisky history and their smooth and elegant creations are worth every penny. Though I should warn you: Whiskies from Japan are massively overhyped at the moment and therefore overpriced like hell. I was lucky and early enough to stock up on some rather pricy bottles. Still a few years too late. Should I ever get my hands on a timemachine, Iíd be sure to grab a few drams.
'From the Barrel' doesnít care for all that. It has no age statement and its price didnít really change within the last few years. It is young and not ashamed of it. It comes in a unique bottle, has a metal screw cork, and is beautifully packaged in a black paper box. A very interesting presentation, screaming style all over the place. Could be a perfume, honestly. The 0.5l bottle looks great in every bar and the minimalistic approach is an absolute eyecatcher. The whisky itself is pretty dark and I assume itís got some added coloring in it. Is that allowed in Japan? I have to check that out. It is deep red and the cut of the bottle make it shine like the sun. What actually was allowed in Japan, was to call a product Japanese whisky, although it contained scotch. In the case of 'From the Barrel', the distillery changed the name of the product as soon as the new law went into effect in 2021, somewhat degrading it. Itís by definition not a Japanese whisky anymore. Well. I donít have a problem with it. Itís a marriage between Japanese and Scottisch distillates and though it maybe a bit confusing at first, it doesnít really matter.
When pouring it into the glass, you get some strong alcohol paired with a fruity note in the back. And it somehow reminds me of a bourbon, because I can find hints of glue. Spices join the bouquet and when you give it time to breathe, thereís oak and vanilla. Although itís not too complex and not that outstanding, you feel invited to drink.
What a punch! This little Nikka conquers your mouth with 51.4 % and itís not trying to hide it. Even though my nose kind of prepared me, itís still a kick. I like that. As soon as tongue and lips realize whatís going on, it calms down. The third sip is not hitting you like a truck anymore and you can concentrate on what 'From the Barrel' has to offer; though being strong is a vital part of the composition. Fruity notes stay in the back. They are there, but far away, subtle. Instead spices are on the rise. Joined by oak, they begin to form a wonderful alliance. You get cinnamon and sherry, discover vanilla again, and even caramel is there. It still reminds me of a bourbon. 'From the Barrel' hasnít had a long time in its cask and, as does the bottle, got some rough edges, but lures you into drinking more. The aromas are carefully woven into one another, so after a while it becomes smooth, a bit lighter and even sweet. A nice one. Maybe too powerful to be considered an everyday whisky, but a wonderful evening companion nevertheless.
I was surprised what the dram has to offer, considering the fair price tag and the somewhat funky presentation. The little guy is a full-bodied, well-balanced, and interesting drink. Everything is carefully blended together and though it might be a bit stingy at first, I would not water it down. It feels pure, you have to take it the way it is. The finish, to complete the review, is not incredibly long. But you donít really have the feeling it should be. Or that it needs to be. Nikkaís 'From the Barrel' leaves the drinker satisfied and happy, warm on the inside. A no-brainer for me. And a permanent guest in my bar. (03.2023)