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Grain whisky is one of the least understood components of the whisky world. When you sip a blended Scotch like Johnnie Walker or Suntory's Hibiki, you're drinking a blend of two types of whiskies--both single malt and grain--hence the term "blend" (many people assume the "blend" refers to the blend of various distilleries). While we've gone out of our way here at K&L to help our customers understand 100% malted-barley single-malt whisky, we've never really talked very much about grain whisky--mostly because there's very little of it available! Grain whisky is made from corn, wheat and unmalted barley on a continuous still--much like vodka is produced. The Coffey Still is a type of continuous still that can pump out grain whisky without having to alternate batches. Because of the efficiency and cheaper production cost, grain whisky has taken on a bit of a bad rap. This reputation is entirely undeserved, however, especially when delicious grain whisky like the new Nikka Coffey Still is available. This is classic grain whisky--round vanilla, hints of caramel, and an herbaceous, spicy note that brings some pop on the finish.
NOTE: While grain whisky can be enjoyed on its own, I find its flavors are much more impressive on the rocks and when splashed with a bit of soda. The Nikka Coffey Still is perhaps the best grain whisky we've yet seen available on the American market.