Whisky is a drink that has been enjoyed by people for centuries. There are many different types of whisky, each with its own unique flavour and history. In this blog post, we will explore the world of whisk(e)y and learn about some of the most popular whisky-producing countries in the world.
Our journey begins in Japan, where distillers create some of the most unique and delicious whiskies on earth!
A brief history of Japanese whisky
The first Japanese whisky distillery was founded in the early 1920s by Masataka Taketsuru. Taketsuru had studied the art of whisky-making in Scotland and was determined to bring this knowledge back to his home country.
The first few years were difficult for the young distillery, as they struggled to create a product that met the high standards of Scottish whisky. However, they persevered and eventually created a unique style of Japanese whisky that has become beloved by fans all over the world. The Japanese whisky sector has continued to grow in recent years, with a number of new distilleries opening up across the country.
There are now over 30 active Japanese whisky distilleries, each with its own unique style and flavour profile. The popularity of Japanese whisky has skyrocketed in recent years, with many people now recognising it as some of the best in the world.
Types of Japanese whisky
Japanese whiskey is typically divided into two categories: single malt and blended. Single malt whiskies are made from 100% malted barley, while blended whiskies are made from a combination of malted and unmalted grains.
Most Japanese whiskies are blended, with the majority of distilleries producing both single malt and blended whiskies.
The most common type of Japanese whisky is called ‘blended malt’, which is made from a blend of two or more single malt whiskies.
Japanese whisky often has a lighter body and mouthfeel than Scotch whisky, with a higher focus on delicate flavours and aromas. The flavour profile of Japanese whisky can vary greatly depending on the specific distillery and style of whiskey being produced. However, some common flavour notes found in Japanese whisky include citrus, floral, green tea, honey, smoke and spice.
Japanese whisky is typically distilled using pot stills, which gives the whisky a heavier body and more robust flavour than whiskies distilled using column stills. Japanese whisky is often matured in ex-bourbon barrels, which imparts flavours of vanilla and coconut to the whisky. Japanese whisky can also be matured in sherry casks, which give the whisky flavours of dried fruits and spices.
Popular Japanese Whiskies
Some of the most popular brands of Japanese whisky include
Nikka is one of the most popular Japanese whisky brands and produces a wide range of whiskies, including single malt, blended malt and grain whiskies. Some of the most popular Nikka whiskies include the Yoichi Single Malt and the Miyagikyo Single Malt.
Suntory is another popular Japanese whisky brand and produces a wide range of whiskies, including single malt, blended malt and grain whiskies. Suntory owns a number of distilleries in Japan, including the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries. Some of the most popular Suntory whiskies include the Yamazaki Single Malt and the Hibiki Blended Whisky.
Karuizawa is a Japanese whisky brand that was founded in 1955 and closed in 2000. Karuizawa was known for producing single malt whiskies, many of which have now become very rare and sought after by collectors. Some of the most popular Karuizawa whiskies include the Karuizawa 1961 and the Karuizawa 1980.
Yamazaki is a Japanese whisky distillery that was founded in 1923. Yamazaki is known for producing a wide range of whiskies, including single malt, blended and grain whiskies. Some of the most popular Yamazaki whiskies include the Yamazaki 12-Year-Old and the Yamazaki 18-Year-Old.
The Hibiki whisky brand was created by Suntory in 1989. Hibiki is a blended whisky that is made using a wide range of different malt and grain whiskies. Some of the most popular Hibiki whiskies include the Hibiki 12-Year-Old and the Hibiki 17-Year-Old.
The Chichibu whisky distillery was founded in 2008 by Ichiro Akuto. Chichibu is known for producing a wide range of whiskies, including single malt, blended and grain whiskies. Some of the most popular Chichibu whiskies include the Chichibu On The Way and the Chichibu Port Pipe.
Hakushu is a single malt whisky that is produced by Suntory. Hakushu was founded in 1973 and is located in the Southern Japanese Alps. Some of the most popular Hakushu whiskies include the Hakushu 12-Year-Old and the Hakushu 18-Year-Old.
The Kaiyō whisky distillery is located on the island of Miyajima. Kaiyō produces a range of whiskies, including single malt, blended and grain whiskies. Some of the most popular Kaiyō whiskies include the Kaiyō Malt Whisky and the Kaiyō Mizunara Oak Whisky.
Yoichi is a single malt whisky that is produced by Nikka. Yoichi was founded in 1934 and is located in the town of Yoichi on the island of Hokkaido. Some of the most popular Yoichi whiskies include the Yoichi 15-Year-Old and the Yoichi 20-Year-Old.
The Japanese whiskey investment market
The Japanese whiskey investment market has seen a lot of growth in recent years. This is due to the increasing popularity of Japanese whiskies, as well as the limited availability of some of the more sought-after bottles.
One of the most popular Japanese whiskies on the market today is the Yamazaki Single Malt Whiskey. The Yamazaki distillery was founded in 1923 and is located in the town of Shimamoto, near Osaka. The Yamazaki 12-Year-Old is one of the most popular bottlings from this distillery.
Sales of Yamazaki have increased dramatically in recent years, due to the growing popularity of Japanese whiskies around the world. The Yamazaki 12-Year-Old was named “Whisky of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible in 2015, and this has helped to increase its profile even further.
The best of Japanese whisky
So there you have it, a brief introduction to the world of Japanese whisky. Japanese whiskies are becoming increasingly popular, and it’s easy to see why.
These whiskies offer something unique, and they are definitely worth seeking out if you’re looking for something different.
Next up in our World of Whisk(e)y, America!