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Japanese Whisky

Japanese Whisky

Japanese whisky is a relatively new invention, having only really been around since 1870.  It wasn’t until the 1920’s that it was produced commercially, when Japan’s first distillery was opened.

Although they have a much shorter history when compared to many other whisky producing countries, they have still be able to create some fantastic tasting products which many compare to be similar to the Scotch whisky style. Despite the comparisons over the time they have developed their own unique style and taste that any whisky lover would enjoy.

History of Japanese Whisky

The origin of the Japanese Whisky began with two men, Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru, when they started the Suntory brand in 1923 with theirs and Japan’s first distillery. Over the years, many more distilleries have opened, helping to increase Japan’s whisky notoriety and popularity. This growth in popularity in the international market started when Nikka's 10-year Yoichi single malt won the Best of the Best at the Whisky Magazine's awards in 2001. Before this win almost all of the Japanese whisky market was internal to Japan.

Japanese Whisky Style

One of the key things to note about Japanese Whisky is that while many of their distillers follow the traditional Scottish distilling method, there is one element they cannot follow which is the weather. Japanese weather is very different to that in Scotland, particularly comes to their summers which are very warm, resulting in a much faster maturing process which allows them to deliver different results than whiskies made in Scotland or other parts of the globe with cooler weather.

Like many other distilleries around the world, the Japanese produce a large amount of blended whiskies when compared to single malt whiskies. However the way that the Japanese whisky industry produces these blended whiskies differs from the rest of the world.

Most of the time when a distillery outside of Japan is creating a blended whisky, they use a number of malt whiskies from both distilleries that they own (or partnered with) and from distilleries that are owned by someone else, allowing the creation of unique blends and tastes. However for a while the Japanese did something different, owning the distilleries as well as the brand meaning that they don’t trade whiskies with other companies. This unwillingness to share their products results in blended whisky that contains malt whisky from select distilleries resulting in whiskies that many (especially outside of Japan) believe to lack taste and uniqueness. However in recent years this issue of taste and uniqueness has been looked into with distillers now creating a selection of styles from light to smokey. This new approach of blending styles has led this industry to produce some fantastic new and exciting blends that has helped Japanese whiskies to be recognised around the world.

How to drink Japanese Whisky

Typically common Japanese whiskies are drunk in cocktails with the most popular option being in whisky highballs. The rare high end whiskies are recommended to be enjoyed either straight or on the rocks thereby making sure you take in all the flavours they have to offer.

The tastes and flavours that Japanese whiskies have to offer would help any whisky enthusiast fall in love with their products and country.

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