Japanese attribute weather as the single biggest reason for their whisky being so amazing.
They always say that it`s all about the weather. Summer brings in sweet fragrances, green leaves, a grassy touch, winter brings in the warmth inside the distillery have a “good feel” impact on the whisky, spring brings in flowers and autumn offers leaves and a calming effect on the whisky. The climate and centuries old tradition for whisky making resulting in several distilleries and common support infrastructure. In Japan, they respect the traditional ways but at the same time are constantly innovating and challenging themselves to make a unique whisky which is a global icon.
Two of the most influential figures in the history of Japanese whisky are Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru. Torii was a pharmaceutical wholesaler and the founder of Kotobukiya (later to become Suntory). Shinjiro foresaw a future for western style spirits in Japan. Japan was emerging on the world stage at the time, and he wanted to produce a Japanese-made whisky that the country could be proud of. To start with, the whisky needed to appeal to the Japanese palate and be enjoyed throughout the world.
The whisky needed to appeal to the Japanese palate, and be enjoyed throughout the world. Whisky production in Japan began around 1870, but the first commercial production was in 1924, when the country’s first distillery—Yamazaki opened. Japan is the second largest producer of Single Malt whisky in the world.
In 2009, The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi successfully launched contemporary Japanese cuisine restaurant – Wasabi by Morimoto, and then took the connoisseur’s to the next level of food and Whisky from Japan symbolizes the harmony between Japanese nature & its people.
Mostly non peated malt and wooden & stainless steel wash backs are used in production.
The whisky is a fine confluence of the vagaries of nature and art of its artisans, who craft this magnificent spirit. Japanese whisky enjoys all four seasons during maturation capturing the best that each has to offer; in fact they feel that they have 24 seasons. The style of Japanese whisky is more similar to that of Scotch whisky than Bourbon whiskey, and thus the spelling typically follows the Scotch convention (omitting the letter “e”). A suitable environment, mild climate with 4 seasons, pure water preserved in greens and producing a variety of Whiskies at 1 distillery are key to the Japanese nectar. The taste is well Balanced, Mild, Delicate and Sweet Elegant influenced by Japanese Oak.
There are several companies producing whisky in Japan. The two most well-known are Suntory and Nikka. Both of these produce blended as well as single malt whiskies. There are currently around ten whisky distilleries in Japan.
Leading brand Yamazaki is owned by Suntory, located between Osaka and Kyoto. Suntory can produce over 100 different types of Whisky (Yamazaki can produce 60 types.)
Yoichi is owned by Nikka, located on the Northern island of Hokkaidō. Nikka is a part of Asahi Breweries.
Miyagikyo – also Nikka, is located to the North of the main island, near the city of Sendai.
Some of Suntory whiskies are enjoyed for their subtle taste & rich aroma and are well matched to the Indian palate, since the oriental spice is welcome “food note” in India. These whiskies carry woody & spicy notes, are an assuring gold colour and have raisins, cranberry, chocolate, rich fruit cake, almond and zesty orange taste.
The Japanese have always enjoyed food and drink in harmony, the whisky bars of Osaka are a witness to the same. As such, whiskies are subtle & pair well with food. The Japanese emphasize on the taste of the whisky as well, not just the nose of the whisky.
OYU WARI: Whisky with Luke warm water.
MIZUWARI: Whisky with ice and water.
ROKKU: Whisky on the rocks.
STRAIGHT: Whisky straight up
1. Yoichi 10 YO Single malt
Colour: Amber with gold reflection.
Nose: Clean with toasted and spicy notes. Apple and apricot fragrance. Very fresh.
Palate: Rounded and vanilla flavour combined with a perfect balance between oaky and fruity notes.
Finish: Long lasting finish revealing remarkable fruity, oaky and floral notes.
2. Yoichi 15 YO Single malt
Nose: Lychees and sweet white grape.
Palate: Vanilla is the main theme and there is a fresh, fruity, mouth-watering quality.
Finish: Surprisingly long and increasingly oily. A hint of smoke adds to the complexity.
3. Yoichi 20 YO Single malt
The nose is rich, earthy and eventually blackcurrant, with almost violet perfumey note.
Amazing mix of big smoke and sweet blackcurrant almost strawberry-ish fruits hits the palate.
A Malteser of a whisky, with the big peaty flavours at the heart but wrapped in a layer of sweet fruit.
Big, long and sweet finish, with the fruit and the smoke battling each other all the way.
4. Miyagikyo 15 YO Single malt
Nose: a very interesting profile, not very bold but rather subtle, it seems. Nice notes of marzipan,lily of the valley, hot bread crust… Goes on with small dried oranges, cedar wood, leather polish,hints of nutmeg…
Mouth: the wood influence is quite obvious (lactones, vanilla, soft spices and sort of dryness).
5. Nikka Pure Malt Red
Nose: Fresh pear, then richer notes quickly develop. Custard, apricot, touch of hazelnut. Hint of pine.Delicate smokiness in the back. Caramel with water.
Palate: Sweet and flowing. Well balanced. Nutty. Drying on light oak.
Finish: Medium, firm but retains sweetness. Ginger.
6. Nikka from the Barrel
Nose: Floral, fruity and spicy.
Palate: Big, spicy and oaky developing ripe and caramalised fruit.
Finish: Long with ripe fruit flavours combined with soft oaky and vanilla notes.
7. Nikka All Malt
Nose: Soft. Malty. Buttery. Hint of cedar
Palate: Sweet. Very creamy and toffeeish, but light on the tongue. Very clean.
Finish: Light. Cedar
8. Nikka Taketsuru 17 YO Pure Malt
A tropical nose with a touch of cherries and baked apples and a little toffee and smoke as it broadens.
Starts sweetly on the palate but soon the spice and oak kick in with heavier emphasis and the balance is maintained by the roundness and the touches of vanilla and mocha on the finish.
9. Yamzaki 12 YO
Aroma- Dried-fruit, Prune, Malt, Woody, Estery / Fruity, Honey. Oriental incense (a kind of spiciness, similar to cinnamon)
Taste – Cherry, Butter cream, Prune,Sweet, Dry, Woody
Finish- Pleasant wood, Warm, Lingering, Dry.