Traveling to Japan? Here Is A List Of Whiskies To Bring Back
Any informed opinion of Japan will always tell you two things about the country. First, Japan are the best example of a peaceful co-existence between advanced technology and respect for their heritage. Second, the Japanese people have successfully created many different applications for this principle, and today we are going to talk about the best of them.
Whisky making, a practice that the Japanese have perfected in less than a century. Today, Japan is home to some of the world’s most prestigious distilleries, producing single malts whiskies, blended whiskies and single grain whiskies that have won multiple awards all over the world.
Drawing inspiration from the Scottish, the first whisky distillery in Japan was built in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, and Masataka Taketsuru, the founders of the Suntory and Nikka brand of whiskies respectively. Taketsuru worked for Torii for a decade before establishing his Nikka, and together they laid the groundwork for the thriving Japanese whisky industry.
Whiskies in Japan have come a long way, with new techniques, applications and weather conditions helping distillers create some extraordinary whiskies. Japanese whiskies have won multiple awards at whisky competitions, even defeating some of the world’s best known Scotch, Irish and Bourbon brands. So the next time you find yourself visiting the beautiful country, or at a duty free store, take this amazing opportunity to buy yourself something special. Add a bottle (or two) of Japanese whisky to your personal collection
The Chita Single Grain Whisky
The Chita Single Grain Whisky is one of Suntory’s most treasured secrets, and one of the core ingredients that formed the treasured Hibiki 17 Year Old blend. The Chita Distillery, named after the province it is located on, is closely guarded by Suntory. Not many pictures of the distillery are available, which has always been puzzling for many.
The whisky on the other hand, is phenomenal and one of the finest Japanese whiskies released in the past decade. Only a handful of special bottlings of the Chita were released in Japan earlier. When The Chita was widely released in Japan, and later worldwide, it took many by surprise. Matured in three different barrels – Sherry, Wine and Bourbon, the Chita Single Grain is full of refreshing tropical flavours and aromas. A highly recommended bottling to bring back, and add it to your priceless collection.
Nikka From The Barrel Whisky
Nikka Whisky was the brand created by Masataka Taketsuru, the man who helped Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii build the Yamazaki Distillery. That was Japan’s first ever whisky distillery, and laid the foundations for a thriving Japanese whisky industry. Taketsuru built his own distillery, the Yoichi, when he parted ways with Torii after a decade.
Nikka From The Barrel is made from whiskies distilled at the Yoichi & Miyagikyo distilleries, and bottled at cask-strength. It is one of the very few cask-strength whiskies out of Japan, but that is not one of the most glowing attributes of this whisky. From The Barrel is exploding with rich and full flavours, courtesy to some fine malt and grain whiskies from Nikka. The blend is matured in a number of wonderful barrels, which makes the end result so irresistible.
Taketsuru Pure Malt Whisky
Another excellent release from the house of Nikka Whisky, named after their founder Masataka Taketsuru. This is a blended malt whisky as the name suggests, and contains whiskies from both malt distilleries belonging to Nikka, the Yoichi and Miyagikyo. It is believed that the proportion of whiskies from Miyagikyo is higher in this blend.
The Taketsuru Pure Malt is a no-age-statement blended malt. It has an unbelievably pleasant and aromatic nose, and there is a good deal of richness from a part of the blend matured in Sherry casks. A great sweet and spicy balance, with lots of caramel, ripe fruits and toasted oak round off a delightful drinking experience. The Taketsuru Pure Malt is not the best Nikka release, but it is certainly some of their most interesting recent work. Highly recommended for Nikka loyalists who will love the familiarities.
Akashi Single Malt Whisky
While Suntory and Nikka might dominate the space as flagbearers of the Japanese whisky industry, there are some exceptional hidden gems in Japan like the Akashi. A family-run business that dates back to the 1600s, they did not enter the whisky business until a few decades ago. Eigashima Shuzo Ltd. produce the Akashi Single Malt at their White Oak Distillery in Osaka.
The company retains their priority over producing Sake and Shochu for ten months each year, which leaves just two months for them to distil whisky. The Akashi Single Malt is a blend of three single malts of different ages, matured in three different types of barrels. There is obviously a lot going on, but the Akashi Single Malt balances all these influences very well. Limited bottlings of the Akashi are made available each year since the production is limited too, but not to worry. It is not a particularly over-priced, and can be yours for a modest price.
Hibiki Blender’s Choice
The replacement for the now rare Hibiki 17 Year Old, the Blender’s Choice is a no-age-statement blend of malt and grain whiskies. Suntory ceased production of the Hibiki 17 Year Old due to dwindling stock, and instead chose to make their supplies last longer. The Hibiki Blender’s Choice is the third NAS inclusion into the Hibiki range, along with the Hibiki Harmony, and the Hibiki Harmony Master Distiller’s Select.
The Blender’s Choice expressions contains a small proportion of wine cask aged whisky, which brings its own subtle influence on the spirit. The blend also contains some vintage Suntory whiskies, and the result is a splendid, well-balanced whisky. The Hibiki Blender’s Choice can be difficult to find, but you can try the Hibiki Harmony for the same goodness.
The Chita Single Grain, Nikka From The Barrel, Taketsuru Pure Malt, Akashi Single Malt and Hibiki Blender’s Choice are the five most extraordinary whiskies you can bring back with you from a trip abroad. Not only will they make for a great addition to your home bar, but will also introduce you to an exciting new style of whisky.