Nikka Days would make for an excellent memoir title, but it works just as well as the name of the new, 80-proof whisky from one of the two titans of Japanese distilling. Nikka Days just touched down in the United States, where it’s currently available in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida, and Tennessee, with distribution expected to expand in 2021.
The whisky, a faint, mellow gold in color, has aromas of tropical fruits, pears, orange blossoms, and a gentle, subtly sweet vanilla that reminded me a bit of boxed vanilla cake mix.
Its mouthfeel is the very embodiment of “silky.” It glides over the tongue with an incredible lightness of body, yet still possesses a very pleasing texture. It begins with the soft flavors of tropical fruits, and at the center it picks up a combination of light vanilla and malt that delivers the distinct flavor of Nilla Wafers. The soft, subtly sweet flavors turn to ladyfingers in syrup at the back of the palate. The whisky is then played off with a light touch of oak and a very delicate measure of spice that nonetheless richens and deepens the mellow experience, pulling off a conclusion that’s at once gentle and substantial.
While it’s a worthy sipper, there’s no doubt that Nikka Days is intended for cocktail use—especially in Whisky Highballs. In that capacity, Days delivers. Its sessionable ABV and gentle nature suit it to ice and soda water, but the mixing doesn’t dilute its character. I found that its malty aspects were only enhanced by the dilution with water, making for a richer mouthfeel and delivering cereal-heavy notes that concluded with a malty chocolate note not unlike a pack of Whoppers or hot cocoa mix.
At about $50, Nikka Days is a bit steeper than some of its competition, but proves more complex and layered without sacrificing any of its easy-drinking laurels. Though not inexpensive, Days is offered at a lower price point than the other Nikka expressions available in the U.S., and it will likely introduce more drinkers to the storied maker.
Oh, and if anyone from Nikka is reading: Here’s hoping you release a higher-ABV sequel dubbed “Nikka Nights” in the near future.
— 40% ABV