thanks, islay peat, for the follow-up. i appreciate all the input.
i've had the yamazaki 12--it was the 1st japanese single malt i sampled--and it wasn't really to my liking: it lacked that certain "oomph"! nikka, on the other hand, seems to favor a bit of smoke in its profiles, and this is more in keeping with my particular taste. i recall hearing that taketsuru was keen on being truer to the scottish style rather than "watering it down" for the japanese palate--and i also recall reading that the yoichi distillery, in hokkaido (?), has a climate closer to that of scotland than the other japanese distilleries...
i've had the taketsuru 12 and, though a "mere" blend (if a vatted one), i found it enjoyable: not altogether unlike bowmore 12, in my experience, although i admittedly enjoyed drams of the 2 back-to-back. it's also cheap (about ¥2000 a bottle), so i can always go get it at my local shop. i may focus on the yoichi 10 as my next j-whisky. tell me, i've heard that hakushu has got some peat to it, but i've also heard it described as largely floral in character. think there's enough peat in the NAS or 10 (or 12) to suit an islay lover's fancy?