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When it comes to the various origins of whisky, Scotland, America, and Ireland tend to be the countries that spring to mind first. However, over the last decade or so Japanese whisky has entered the fold, enjoying great success thanks to a foundation that’s reminiscent of scotch combined with Japanese innovation.
The Japanese whisky industry has been in existence for less than a century and only has a handful of distilleries in operation. Despite this, it has made quick work of developing a unique style — or rather styles — and in the process has gained worldwide acclaim. From light and precise to strong and smoky, the range of malts and blends provide enough variety to suit the needs of many.
Although Scotland has built up over 100 malt distilleries over the course of several centuries, Japan opted to move quickly and did so with much fewer distilleries. Therefore making the Japanese whisky industry very much a case of quality over quantity.
Much like Scotch, the two main types of Japanese whisky are single malt and blended whiskies. All of which vary in regards to taste, style and production methods. The latter being the most important aspect when it comes to differentiating single malts and blended whisky.
Japan has received high acclaim for its range of single malt whiskies. They are produced just like any other single malt whisky, distilled from nothing more than yeast, malted barley, and water at a single distillery. From there, a maturation process in oak casks begins, lasting for at least three years and a day. Two leading brands own Japanese distilleries: Nikka and Suntory, founded by Masataka Taketsuru and Shinjiro Torii respectively.
Blended Japanese whisky is made by combining malt whiskies and grain whisky (hence the name ‘blended’), sometimes from multiple distilleries. The whiskies are drawn from several different types of casks, examples of which include American white oak, Mizunara oak, and Sherry casks. By combining multiple whiskies into a blend, it has created unique flavours that can be difficult for a single malt to replicate, and are definitely a must-try for whisky connoisseurs.
Among the many types of whisky from all over the world, Japanese whisky is undoubtedly one that fewer people know much about or are even aware of. Here at DrinkFinder, we have a comprehensive range of whiskies and possess an in-depth knowledge of the industry, both of which are essential for assisting customers to develop their taste for Japanese whisky!