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Goin’ Japanesque!

5 Recommended Japanese Whiskies for You to Sip On!

Japanese people began developing and producing whiskies in Japan around 1870, but the first commercial production of Japanese whisky was in 1924, when Yamazaki, the country’s first distillery was established. The taste of Japanese whisky is similar to Scotch whisky, as one of the founders and also the distillery executive of Yamazaki; Masataka Taketsuru, studied the art of distilling in Scotland, and maybe this is the main reason why Japanese whiskies have similar taste to Scotch whisky.

In the beginning, the market of Japanese whiskies was very domestic; most of the whiskies were mainly sold only in Japan. The market of Japanese whiskies became global for the first time in 2001, when Nikka’s Yoichi Single Malt won the “Best of the Best” of Whisky Magazine’s awards. Ever since then, Japanese whiskies have become the subject of many international media, and at the same time, Japanese whiskies became famous among foreign tourists as well.

Japan is the home of world-leading whiskies; and among other Japanese distilleries; Nikka and Suntory produce one of the most famous and delicious Japanese whiskies ever. Today we have listed 5 different Japanese whiskies that are worth to try; you can trying them at bars in Japan, or you can buy them from liquor shops in Japan. Some of these whiskies are difficult to find, so purchasing them as souvenirs might be difficult, but you can always try them when you are visiting one of upscale bars in Japan! Title photo by flickr


1. Nikka From the Barrel

japanese-whiskies1Nikka From the Barrel, Image source: flickr

Produced by one of the most popular Japanese distilleries, Nikka From the Barrel is more affordable compared to other whiskies produced by Nikka. The fragrance of this whisky is very earthy, spicy, and fruity at the same time. You can smell fragrance of meadow slightly, a bit of pepper, strong orange notes, and a bit of cinnamon and cloves from this whisky. The after taste of this whisky is well-balanced and smooth. This whisky tastes best when served on the rocks!


2. Eigashima White Oak Akashi

japanese-whiskies2Eigashima White Oak Akashi, Image source: flickr

Eigashima is a local distillery in Hyogo prefecture, and it produced a local Japanese whisky called Akashi. There are two types of Akashi: White Oak and Cherry Oak. White Oak Akashi is one of my favorite, as it is very easy to drink, and has a very flavorful blend of chocolate, honey, and fruits. Tastes best when served on the rocks or with crushed ice!


3. Suntory Hibiki 30-year

japanese-whiskies3Hibiki 30-year, Image source: whisky online auctions

This whisky is the most expensive whisky I’ve ever tried, and the most difficult whisky to find ever! Hibiki is the most famous whisky brand produced by Suntory, and it has won many more international awards compared to other Japanese whiskies. This whisky is very fragrant; a perfect combination of marzipan, marmalade, nutmeg, apricot, quinces, chamomile, and many other notes. Tastes very creamy and flavorful, this whisky is worth every penny!


4. Nikka Coffey Grain

japanese-whiskies4Nikka Coffey Grain, Image source: flickr

This whisky is made by combining both the Scottish and Irish distilling technology; yes, this whisky is distilled using two Irish Coffey stills imported from Scotland in 1963. Produced mainly with corn, this whisky tastes very sweet and has sweet fragrance; a perfect combination of vanilla, maple syrup, and brown sugar. Tastes best when served at room temperature!


5. Suntory Hakushu 12-year

japanese-whiskies5Suntory Hakushu 12-year, Image source: flickr

Suntory Hakushu, is distilled using pure water from Japan’s Southern Alps, which gives this whisky a very well-balanced taste. This whisky is rich in natural aroma, dominated by meadow notes, with a little bit of smell of toasted barley. This whisky has a very fruitful after taste, but the most impressive thing you can find in this whisky is its calming notes; a perfect combination of grassy, smoky, and earthy notes. Tastes best when served on the rocks or with soda water!


In addition to these whiskies, you can find many different types of Japanese whiskies at the market. Personally I would recommend Hibiki 21-year, Suntory Hakushu 12-year, Suntory Yamazaki 25-year, and Nikka Yoichi 12-year. Please refer to this page for more information about Japanese whiskies!

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About the author

Hello, my name is Katie and I’ve lived in Japan for almost 10 years. You will see many reviews about things in Japan that you will never find in guide books for tourists, and I will take you to see both the prettiest and the ugliest side of Japan!

View all articles by Katie