With such minimal ingredients allowed inside a bottle of single malt whisky, it’s little wonder that modern distillers are curious to push the boundaries of each element to create a liquid of distinction. Boutique water sources and experimental grains have had their time to shine.
Now, Nikka turns its focus to an exploration of yeasts as they launch their latest – strictly limited-edition – ‘Discovery Series’ whiskies in Australia.
Yoichi Single Malt Aromatic Yeast (from Nikka’s northern, seaside Japanese Yoichi distillery) and Miyagikyo Single Malt Aromatic Yeast (from their mountainous, river-side Miyagikyo distillery) arrived on our shores late last year. According to Nikka’s Australian ambassador, Marcus Parmenter, the Yoichi is all tropical juice poured over Weetbix, aged in mainly ex-bourbon casks. Meanwhile, the Miyagiko is reminiscent of a Victoria sponge cake slathered with cream and red fruit jam.
Nikka sources yeasts from around the world, cultivates them inside in-house labs and trials them in samples for years to select those that make the most enjoyable drops. The dual Discovery Series expressions blend whiskies made with over 100 top-secret yeast cultures. Inside each glass you may taste whiskies from “abandoned” casks typically considered too unique to represent the house style, some whiskies using now-decommissioned yeasts, and even some whiskies that are decades old.
These whiskies are a testament to yeast’s invisible fermenting power to vastly shift flavour profiles.
Only 20,000 Discovery Series 2022 bottles exist. In Melbourne, you can taste them at Whisky Den, The Elysian Whisky Bar, Casa De Vinos, Whisky & Alement, Boilermaker, Nick & Nora’s and Eau de Vie.