Move over Scotland, Japanese whisky is on the rise!
If you’re not familiar to whisky, this may come as a shock to you, but if you ask a whisky enthusiast, I’m sure they’d be nodding their heads with me. Japanese whisky has been gaining a lot of international hype in the last couple of years, beating Scotland in prestigious awards. The trend can also be seen within the country, especially after “Massan” became a hit TV show in 2015. “Massan” is based on the story of Masataka Taketsuru who is known as the “father of Japanese whisky” and his Scottish wife, Rita. The Japanese have long been known for their dedication to craftsmanship and this can be said about their whisky as well. Whether you’re a blend lover or a single malt fanatic, we’ve got you covered. Here are 6 Japanese whiskies that you should try!
Suntory – Hibiki
Even if you’ve never tried Suntory’s Hibiki, chances are you’ve seen it in the film Lost in Translation. Yup, that’s right! This is the very whisky Bill Murray’s character shoots a commercial for. In the film, his character has to say the line “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time” and that is exactly what Hibiki, Suntory’s famous whisky provides. Hibiki combines a full orchestra of flavors and aromas with 10 malts and grain whiskies. Also, the whisky comes in an absolutely to die for extravagant bottle!
Nikka – From The Barrel
Nikka’s From The Barrel has 51% of alcohol, but don’t let that scare you away from this amazing whisky.
For a whisky with a high percentage of alcohol, it tastes incredibly smooth with oaky flavors. It’s made by maturing malt and grain whisky, blending them and re-casking to create a rich harmony of different whiskies. Bonus points about this whisky? price and the bottle. Compared to the other whiskies I’ve introduced, From The Barrel is sold at a reasonable price point.
On top of that, the sleek and modern bottle would look great as a room decor once your done drinking that fabulous whisky!
Suntory – Yamazaki 12 year old
Suntory’s Yamazaki 12 year old is a single malt whisky with a multi-layered taste. Compared to Hibiki, it has a unique and powerful scent. What makes this whisky special is that it comes from the Yamazaki distillery, which is the oldest distillery in Japan. Yamazaki distillery is located right between Osaka and Kyoto (West Japan) which is known for its warm and moist weather. This certainly influenced the production of the whisky and as a result, gives the whisky a unique flavor different from scotch. Cool facts: In 2014, Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 was named the “best whisky in the world”.
Whisky Venture – Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Black Label
Compared to Nikka and Suntory, Whisky Venture may seem new to the game, but that isn’t actually true. Ichiro Akuto comes from a family that has been running a sake brewery for generations and the family had started producing whisky as early as 1946. Much of Akuto’s whisky making is influenced by his roots from brewing sake, he is a craftsman that is dedicated to perfecting the art of whisky. The distillery it is located in Chichibu (outside of Tokyo), which is extremely humid and hot in the summer, but cold in the winter time. The climate of Chichibu plays an important role making the whisky fruity and well-balanced. Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Black Label comprises of 10 malts and 3 grain whiskies creating a complex and powerful taste. If you want to try something that’s not mainstream, give Ichiro’s Malt a try!
Suntory – Hakushu
This is another recommendation for all of you single malt lovers out there.
Suntory’s Hakushu was released in 1994 in celebration of 70 years of whisky making at Suntory. Hakushu has a delicate, fresh and smoky taste with herbal notes. The malts were carefully handpicked by the blenders at the distillery in the Southern Alps of Japan. The green bottle is inspired by the distillery that is located in the mountain forest.
This is a blended malt named after the legendary Japanese whisky pioneer Masataka Taketsuru. It has been awarded the World Whiskies Award for over 7 times! What makes this blend special? Unlike most blends, Taketsuru doesn’t consist of any grain whiskies. It’s a beautiful blend of whiskies from the Miyagkiyo & Yoichi distilleries, including malt matured in sherry casks. Taketsuru has an extremely well-balanced taste with a very smooth finish. It’s a likable whisky that could be recommended for any new whisky drinker.