Japanese Whisky

Japan did not have a commercial whisky distillery until 1923, when Shinjiro Torii opened Suntory outside of Kyoto. Suntory’s first distiller was Masataka Taketsuru, a Scotch whisky enthusiast and engineer who learned the art of whisky-making in Scotland. Japanese whisky is thus made in the Scotch style, with a focus on malted barley; expressions are bottled as both blends and single malts, with many distilleries today using traditional pot stills and importing peat and barley from Scotland. Despite its Scottish roots, Japanese whisky has increasingly distinguished itself in quality and style. Because the Japanese whisky industry is vertically integrated, blends are almost always created in-house from one producer’s stocks. The unique flavors of Japanese whisky are often attributed to long fermentation times and unique yeast strains, which are used to create a crystal clear wort prior to distillation. The turn of the century growth in the popularity of whisky, and in single malts in particular, has led to a global explosion in the demand for Japanese whisky.

Top Japanese Whisky Posts:

A Visit to Suntory’s Yamazaki Distillery
5 Whiskies from Japan’s Nikka Distillery
Kaiyo Japanese Mizunara Oak Whisky
Suntory Whisky Toki
Talking Toki with Suntory Master Blender Shinji Fukuyo

Review: Nikka the Grain Whisky – Discovery 2023

By Christopher Null | November 21, 2023 |

Japan’s Nikka Whisky began its experimental Nikka Discovery series in 2021, with two special releases, one from each of its two main distilleries. Nikka followed suit with another pair in 2022, making one wonder if it would continue the theme going forward. Well, here we are in 2023, and Nikka has announced that this will…

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Review: Hakata Whiskey 10, 12, 16, and 18 Years Old

By Christopher Null | June 29, 2023 |

Hikari Distillery has been around in Fukuoka, Japan since 1912, but its Hakata Whiskey brand is new to U.S. shores, a 100% single malt which has been partially fermented with koji mold, adding umami flavors to the distillate. All four expressions of Hakata are aged in sherry casks in a combination of traditional warehouses and…

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Review: Tiger Thiccc Blended Whiskey

By Christopher Null | May 21, 2023 |

Yes, the name of this whiskey is Tiger Thiccc. Yes, with three Cs. To call it unique would be an understatement: It’s a blended whiskey, made from 80% American bourbon (a 99% corn mash from Indiana’s MGP) and 20% Japanese whiskey (55% grain, 45% barley), all finished in a mizunara oak barrel. No age statements…

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10 Top Whiskeys Under $100

By Christopher Null | April 27, 2023 |

Drinkhacker readers: We’ve heard your cries. Our top ten lists regularly feature whiskeys that are impossible to get, much too expensive, or both. With this feature, we’re diving deep into 10 bottlings you can readily obtain from our partners at Coasters, with none costing more than $85, and half of them under $50. Best of…

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Review: Fuji Single Grain Japanese Whiskey 30 Years Old

By Christopher Null | January 2, 2023 |

  We sampled the wares of Fuji earlier in the year, learning about its approach to grain whiskey, which involves three different mashbills and distilling processes. While Fuji’s standard Single Grain release carries no age statement, this edition is quite the opposite, bearing a 30 year old age statement — with some of the whiskies…

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The Top 10 Whiskeys of 2022

By Christopher Null | December 23, 2022 |

The mad fanaticism over all things whiskey continued unabated in 2022, but with quality like this on the market, it’s hard not to see why. Some of this stuff is so insanely good that we can fully understand the wild price hikes and long lines and lotteries just to win the chance at buying a…

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Review: Nikka Discovery Yoichi and Miyagikyo 2022

By Christopher Null | November 28, 2022 |

Nikka’s Discovery series, which launched last year, was a fun way to explore unexpected flavors from the Japanese icon’s two distilleries. While the 2021 expressions focused on the use of peat (or lack thereof), this year’s takes a deep dive into one of the unsung heroes of distillation: yeast. The two whiskies in this year’s…

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Review: Yamazaki Limited Edition Tsukuriwake Selection 2022, Complete Lineup

By Christopher Null | November 14, 2022 |

For the 2022 holiday season, Japan’s Yamazaki has launched four whiskies in its Limited Edition Tsukuriwake Selection, “a fundamental piece of its unrivaled craftsmanship” that “introduce the foundational pillars of Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky – Puncheon, Peated Malt, Spanish Oak, and Mizunara. The collection honors Tsukuriwake, which means ‘artisanship through a diversity of making’ and…

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Review: Fukano Chizuru Japanese Whisky

By Christopher Null | July 22, 2022 |

As importer ImpEx tells us, “This small batch release of Fukano Whisky (limited to 3000 bottles, though it’s readily available) has been created in collaboration with Women Who Whiskey club to celebrate the career of Chizuru Fukano,” who is the former and recently retired Managing Director of Fukano Distillery. This 100% rice whisky is matured…

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Review: Fuji Single Grain Japanese Whiskey

By Christopher Null | June 14, 2022 |

Fuji is a storied distillery that earns its name for a distinctly relevant reason: It’s the closest distillery to Japan’s Mt. Fuji, mere miles away from the base of the iconic peak. Fuji Single Grain Whiskey is a blend of three different grain whiskeys produced at the distillery. Per the distillery, “those different grain whiskeys…

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