Published : 05/03/2020 22:51:37
Japanese Whisky, Handcrafted to Perfection
The complex Japanese culture is hermetic, their values and customs are unique, and their point of view is different and often opposite from western ideals.
Yet, in less than a century, the country adopted malt whisky and made it its own. Today, Japanese whiskies are amongst the most cherished in the world.
Japanese distilleries might have taken inspiration from Scotland, but they’re not imitating the European region anymore; they’re innovating.
From using stills of all sizes to perfecting the malting process; from using Mizunara oak to crafting world-class single malts and blends, Japan makes, for many experts, the most complex whisky on earth.
The Secret Behind Japanese Whisky
Japanese whisky’s have proven that they can be, and often are, better than the Scottish spirits. Year after year, they outscore the best in the business, so how can this be?
Scottish distilleries depend on each other to blend their whiskies. In Japan, each company, like Suntory and Nikka, depend on themselves to make a dozen different whiskeys to blend.
With the use of different malting methods, the highest-quality grains possible, and the purest water, each distillery makes over fifty different whiskeys, which are later the color palate to assemble works of art, both as blended whiskeys and single malts.
Yamazaki Distillery alone makes 70 different whiskeys, and Nikka makes both single malts and grain whisky at their Miyagiyo and Yoichi facilities.
Then there’s a sense of pride. No spirit is bottled unless it’s perfect. And that applies to every distillery in the country; it’s part of the Japanese culture.
Precision and attention to detail. Whiskies in Japan are not manufactured but handcrafted.
These are artisanal spirits, and it shows when you pour the crystal clear, amber-colored whiskies in a glass and experience the release of dozens of balanced aromas of smoke, caramel, fruits and flowers. When you take the first sip, and intense flavors unravel on your tongue, leaving a pleasant, long aftertaste.
Take Taketsuru 21 years, as an example. It has earned the title of best blended whiskey four times.
A blend of two prestigious single malts, Yoichi and Miyagiyo, this whisky is elegantly balanced and intense.
Yoichi Distillery, on the coast of northern Hokkaido, is the first distillery in the region and Mr. Taketsuru’s most significant accomplishment. Whisky here is fruity and aromatic with characteristic scents of peat smoke.
Miyagiyo is the second distillery in Nikka’s catalog, and it makes whisky with the purest spring waters in the country. It has an unbeatable freshness and an indescribable bouquet reminiscent of wildflowers.
Together, Yoichi and Miyagiyo make Nikka Taketsuru Single Malts 21 Years one of the most fragrant, fresh, and intricate spirits ever made, and for the price, it’s a bargain.
Japanese whiskies have amassed a loyal, global following for its unbeatable quality and noble character. And the Japanese are just getting started.
There's more to come as the new generation of distillers, and master blenders learn the ropes and take the Japanese spirit to new heights.
Expect many more accolades and medals: Japanese whisky is one of the best in its category, but with time, it will undoubtedly become the finest spirit we’ve ever seen.