Attention NIKKA fans: the company’s new Coffey Vodka and Gin are now available at the LCBO
NIKKA Whisky has one of the most cultish followings of any spirit in the world. The Japanese brand hardly ever advertises, so knowledge of its flawless taste and fascinating history is usually only spread via serious whisky aficionados. But now that its new Coffey Vodka and Gin are available at the LCBO (for a little while, at least), we thought we’d share some details about the process involved and what makes the label so darn cool.
NIKKA was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, the first Japanese person to ever master the art of whisky distilling. He moved to Scotland in 1918 and apprenticed at three Scotch distilleries, where he filled two notebooks with detailed notes—the pages of which eventually became Japan’s first guide to whisky production. He moved back to Japan in 1920, with his wife whom he met while in Scotland, and was hired by a company called Kotobukiya to direct and build the country’s first genuine whisky distillery. After a ten-year contract, he struck out on his own, building a distillery in Yoichi in the northern region of Hokkaido, which has a perfectly cool and crisp whisky-making environment. He produced apple products for a few years while preparing the facilities, starting whisky distillation in 1936 and launching his first bottle in 1940. He originally called his company Dai Nippon Kaju, which means the “great Japanese juice company”, eventually shortening it to NIKKA.
The new Coffey Vodka and Coffey Gin that were recently added to NIKKA’s roster are made using a similar distillation method to the label’s Coffey Grain Whisky and Coffey Malt Whisky. The key is in the name: the Coffey Still is the world’s oldest patented continuous still, and was named after its Irish inventor Aeneas Coffey in 1831. Masataka was always particular about his stills, and fell in love with the Coffey Still during one of his apprenticeships in Scotland. He imported it to Japan in 1963, and it’s one of only a few existing in the whisky world today. The traditional equipment’s two columns retain the ingredient flavours and help create a distinctively silky texture. With the Coffey Gin, this results in a balanced complexity of 11 different botanicals, four different kinds of Japanese citrus, a touch of apple (a nod to the brand’s history) and a hint of green Japanese Sansho pepper to finish. With the Coffey Vodka, the process provides an exceptionally smooth and delicate spirit, with delightfully zesty notes and a rich sweetness that make it easy to sip on its own.
For those in need of some cocktail inspiration, here are a few simple recipes that are made especially delicious with Coffey Vodka and Gin:
For an afternoon refresher: The Salty Dog
- 45 ml NIKKA Coffey Vodka or Gin
- 120 ml fresh grapefruit juice
To make this surprisingly delicious cocktail, simply salt the rim of your chosen glass, pour the vodka or gin over ice and add grapefruit juice. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit if you’re feeling especially fancy.
For the ultimate recovery: The Bloody Mary
- 45 mL NIKKA Coffey Vodka
- 60 ml tomato juice
- 15 ml soy sauce
- 10 ml lemon juice
- 2 dashes Tobasco
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake heartily, pour into a tumbler and garnish with an olive, celery stick and dash of soy.
The NIKKA Vodka and Gin are currently both available at the LCBO for the first time ever, and would make a coveted bar addition for any spirit buff.
Visit the LCBO to view their full roster of products. LCBO.com