Whiskey is the chameleon of liquors, blending in as a refreshing summer cocktail or a smooth winter Old Fashioned. Globally enjoyed by many, the world of whiskey doesn’t fit into one post. Here, we’re taking a closer look at an elevated whiskey, produced where cherry blossoms bloom and karaoke is second to none: Japan.
Whisky. Forget the ‘e’.
Known to the United States and Ireland as whiskey, other countries omit the ‘e’, including Japan.
What is Japanese whisky?
The whisky produced in Japan is fashioned most similarly to Scotch, double distilled with malted or peated barley and later, aged in wooden barrels. Enjoyed as a single malt or blend, Japanese whisky tends to be drier and smokier than the sweeter American bourbon or rye whiskies. Japanese distillers are known to be very selective with the water used in their whisky. For example, the Yamazaki Distillery only uses the purest water from mountains near Tokyo. The barrels most used to age Japanese whisky are made from mizunara, a species of oak tree that is native to Japan. The unique process and dedication to quality behind the creation of Japanese whiskies has captured the hearts of whisky connoisseurs worldwide.
Best of the Best
Japan’s whisky market was almost entirely domestic until around the early 2000’s, with very little being exported. That all changed when the international community started to catch wind of the high-quality whiskies coming out of Japan. A major turning point was when a Japanese whisky won the “Best of the Best” award from Whiskey Magazine in 2001 (Nikka Whisky Distilling’s 10-year Yoichi single malt). Since then, Japanese whisky has exploded in popularity worldwide, earning countless awards from organizations such as The International Spirits Challenge, World Whiskies Awards, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and many others.
Enjoy Japanese Whisky
The next time you find yourself reaching for the familiar black label bottles, consider trying something new (and world renowned)! Here are our go-to Japanese whisky brands and recipes: