Japanese whisky, which is often considered similar to Scotch, is well known for its quality and inventiveness. Masataka Taketsuru and his business partner Shinjiro Torii famously carried the techniques of Scottish distillers to Japan in the early 1920s. With the tutelage of experienced distillers and renowned Japanese innovation, Japan’s whisky products have become a worthy experience for any enthusiast to enjoy.
Quality in Japanese Whisky
The cachet of Japanese whisky lies in the extreme quality and subtle innovation of the few distilleries carefully placed within the country. Japanese distillers are careful not to reinvent the wheel, carrying long-perfected techniques from more experienced distillers. Instead, producing a whisky with similar profiles to well-known Scotch whiskies and include their creative additions to make their mark.
Yoichi Distillery on Hokkaido was founded by Taketsuru, the head distiller of the first distillery, to closely mirror the conditions prevalent in the Scottish isles and produces single-malt whiskies and pure-malt whiskies, which highlight the curiosity of the founder’s style.
Yamazaki Distillery, the first commercial whisky producer in Japan, holds a reputation for excellence. The Shimamoto local distillery has used the immaculate water known as “Rikya no Mizu” water of the imperial villa to make award-winning single malt and blended whiskies.
Where to Buy a Japanese Whisky in Sydney
With consistent profiles blended by the hands of experienced distillers, Japanese whisky provides an excellent dram to taste and compare notes. Where other whisky regions swap barrels to create new blends, Japanese distillers are unique in their vertical market, only blending whiskies from their own stills.
Sydneysiders with a penchant for whisky share one thing in common; a strong desire to find the next superb dram. Find your next bottle of Japanese whisky with the recommendations of the AWAS tasting panel.
AWAS Japanese Whisky Bottles
When sampling the best of Japan’s whisky productions, you can expect flavour profiles similar to your favourite Scotch but with curious innovations.
Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky
Self-nominated as the pioneer of Japanese whisky, the Yamazaki single malt does not disappoint. From the first whisky distillery in Japan, this Scotch-styled single malt is crafted for lasting satisfaction and intrigue. There are four whiskies in the Yamazaki range, all offering a variety of complex fruity notes with a smooth finish and all winning their share of awards.
Yoichi Single Malt Whisky
From the Yoichi Distillery on the island of Hokkaido, the single malt whisky is as close to the intended Scotch style as Japan produces. With bold, often peaty notes, the range of Yoichi single malt expressions all provide a quality tasting experience and will make a great choice for your next dram.
Why is Japanese whisky so expensive?
Japanese whisky can often be perceived as more expensive than other options. Some of this is due to the strict quality standards that Japanese distilleries uphold and the few distilleries operating within the country.
Conversely, Japanese whisky has become increasingly popular as a luxury option so the price may be slightly inflated. The distinct quality of the ingredients used, excellent water, and purity of their blends make their whisky a premium option for tasting and enjoyment, so we think they’re worth every penny.
How should I drink Japanese whisky?
In addition to the usual recommendations for tasting whiskies, Japan has some more… unusual suggestions to experience the full complexity of their exports.
Hot whisky, while it sounds strange, is a proudly recommended ritual for expressing the deep, complex notes and fruit-filled flavours that are often present. Typically, adding 2-3 parts hot water to 1 part whisky is the way to go.
Japan is also famous for the ‘iceball’, a large ball of ice shaped to fit snugly in the glass for a thoroughly chilled experience. Japanese whisky ritual also stipulates a significantly larger addition of water than many whisky drinkers are accustomed to.
What is the best Japanese whisky?
To find the best whisky Japan has to offer, there are many paths to walk. The original whisky, hailing back to the 1920s – Yamakazi Single Malt Distiller’s Reserve provides a strong sense of culture and history, whereas Yoichi Single Malt “Nikka Discovery” presents the innovation of Japanese whisky as a subtle departure from the expected Scotch-styled product.