This is a single malt from the Yoichi distillery, Nikka's first distillery built in 1934. The founder Masataka Taketsuru chose Yoichi in Hokkaido because of the similar environmental conditions to Scotland, where he learned whisky making. Yoichi single malt has pleasant peaty notes and smokiness originating from the traditional direct coal-fired distillation as well as a briny hint delivered by the sea breeze during the aging process.
"Nikka’s first distillery is located in the eponymous town on the western coast of Hokkaido. Here, power is the key. Deep and rich with a distinct oiliness — somewhere between linseed and cod liver — there’s also plenty of smoke in the mix as well, and a little hint of black olives in brine with ripe apples lurking behind. I hate making comparisons between Japanese and Scotch single malt but if I was forced to, Yoichi reminds me most of Spring bank (edging into Longrow). Water dampens the personality too much for me; best have it full-on and uncompromising. Rather than the palate showing a slow procession of flavors along the tongue, this is a layered whisky; coal-like, oily, and richly fruited with a distinct saltiness on the sides, ably demonstrating that Japan has almost as much variety on offer as scotch." Whiskey Advocate 95 Points