When one thinks of whiskey, they might think of Scotland. However, whiskeys come from various areas around the world. Japanese whisky—or whiskey—is a style of whiskey that was initiated in Japan and still produced there today.
The History of Japanese Rye Whiskey
Japanese whiskey started in 1870, but commercial production did not begin until 1924. The first distillery, Yamazaki, opened at that time.
Surprisingly, Japanese whiskey is more like a Scotch whiskey compared to other international varieties. Today, there is a multitude of companies producing whiskey, but the two that are best known to consumers are Nikka and Suntory.
Both companies use blended and single malts. Their main style is the Suntory Kakubin and the Black Nikka Clear. They also release limited editions on occasion.
The Style of the Japanese Distilleries
Japanese whiskey is an art—just like it is in Scotland.
However, the production began when the country wanted to recreate Scotch-style whiskey in their country. The Japanese studied the creation of Scotch whisky and went as far as to research and recreate the same process for distilleries in Japan.
The locations selected for distilleries in the country are based on climate and terrain, which are similar to distillery sites in Scotland.
One thing that makes Japanese scotch and whiskey so unique is that they use a blended whiskey differently. However, more companies in Japan are becoming interested in exclusive single malt whiskeys, and a clear majority of blends sell.
The industry in Japan is vertically integrated. Therefore, the same company owns the distillery and brands of the blended whiskies. These companies will not trade with their competition, which means every variety of whiskey you get from Japan is different.
5 Things to Consider Before Purchasing Japanese Rice Whiskey
When you are searching for the best Japanese whiskeys, there are specific items to consider before you buy just any bottle.
1. Japanese Whiskey is One of the Newer Varieties on the Market
While whiskey has been around for centuries compared to other brands and country types, Japan is the new kid on the block. Throughout the 20th Century, whiskies from Japan sold and consumed exclusively in their country. Only recently have they started selling in North America and Europe.
2. The Production is Still Unique
While Japanese whiskeys are modeled after Scottish makers, they still have their twist. They do distill twice using pot stills, but some use malted and peated barley to create their whiskeys. Other Japanese whiskeys incorporate the use of rice, which creates a unique blend.
A famous Japanese whiskey from Bevmo comes with 100 percent rice and is called Kikori Whiskey. It is aged for three years and has a subtle sweetness to it.
3. Japanese Whisky Omits the “E”
You will notice that Japanese whiskey follows the Scottish spelling by omitting the “e” in the name. However, many online retailers still add the “e.”
4. Japanese Whiskey is Part of a Pop Culture Movement
Japanese whiskey became prominent in 2003—partly thanks to the movie Lost in Translation. Bill Murray’s character, Bob Harris, drank up the Japan Suntory and even created a tag line within the film for the whiskey.
5. Best of the Best
Do not let the fact that it is developed in Japan fool you. In fact, many Japanese whiskeys receive awards throughout the globe. In fact, the best Japanese whiskeys include the Nikka Yoichi, which was named “Best of the Best” by Whisky Magazine in an international taste test.
Buy a Flask of Japanese Whiskey Today
If you are in the mood for something different, purchase a Japanese single malt or blended whiskey. You will see the similarities to Scottish whiskey, but be prepared to be pleasantly surprised at some of the unique flavors.
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