Although being rather famous for its sake and shochu, Japan catches up with Scotland when it comes to making fine quality whiskey. Japanese whiskeys – such as those produced by Suntory of Osaka and Toyko’s Nikka – have been produced for nearly a century and are more and more appreciated abroad, in countries such as the United States.
“You can see the Japanese culture in their emphasis on balance and harmony,” said Jason Boggs, co-owner of The Shady Lady Saloon in Sacramento, the United States, which offers four Japanese whiskeys. “If you have a serious Scotch program, you need to have some Japanese representation in there.”
Japanese distilleries are famous for their diverse offerings and approaches, according to the international press.
“When you walk into the distillery at Yamazaki, you might see a dozen stills in six different shapes purposefully making different whiskeys,” said Neyah White, brand ambassador for Suntory, a Japanese brewing and distilling company group.
Japanese whiskeys are often winning in competitions, such as the 25-year-old Yamazaki that earned the title of world’s best single malt whiskey at the World Whiskies Awards in March.
When it comes to enjoying a fine spirit, Japanese whiskeys are best appreciated in a pure state, without ice, just like any quality Scotch. However, a splash of water helps unlock the flavors and aromas of whiskey. A highball of Japanese whiskey and soda water also works well.