Collection Japanese whiskey - popular and rare whiskeys made with precision and patience

The history of Japanese whiskey is not very long compared to the history of Scotch whiskey. Still, the Japanese have managed to produce some of the finest whiskeys in the world. Japanese whiskeys are known around the world for their distinctive taste and high quality.
They win award after award and are famous for their mild texture and pleasant aroma.

One of the reasons for this is that the original makers of Japanese whiskeys chose only the best: they modeled themselves on Scottish patterns and even traveled to Scotland to study whiskey-making in depth.

Another reason probably lies in the Japanese attitude and way of working of the Japanese. When modernity came to Japan, the Japanese developed a strategy to deal with it: Wakon Yosai, or in English "Western Technology, Japanese Spirit". It meant that Japan could use the best techniques available in the world and hopefully improve them while adapting them to Japanese conditions.

Today, the Japanese make whiskey in true Wakon Yosai fashion. They use the best technology imported from the whiskey's home country of Scotland and add a little of their own ingenuity to it. The result is a combination that has won worldwide acclaim.

The real story of real Japanese whiskey doesn't begin until the mid-1920s when two men - Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru - teamed up to found the first real whiskey distillery in Japan.

Torii was a big fan of whiskey, a drink that was well known in Japan but hadn't really caught on. Importation of whiskey was minimal and the only thing the local variety shared with real whiskey was the name and colour. His goal was to make the whiskey popular in Japan and to create a real, authentic Japanese whiskey that also catered to Japanese tastes.

Making whiskey isn't easy, so Torii considered hiring a Scottish specialist. However, he later met Masataka Taketsuru, who had studied the process in Scotland and shared his zeal in bringing Japanese whiskey to Japanese consumers.

Masataka Taketsuru had studied organic chemistry at Glasgow University and also worked in a number of Scottish distilleries. When the two men met, Torii hired Taketsuru to start a distillery. Torii had already searched all over Japan for a suitable location and finally settled on Yamazaki near the old capital Kyoto.

It took a few years before the whiskey was good enough to meet Torii's standards. In 1929 he thought he had it when he launched Shirofuda whiskey. It was so successful that a Japanese newspaper announced that from now on no more whiskey would have to be imported as Japanese whiskey was by far good enough. Shirofuda was the first authentic Japanese whiskey and it's still being sold today.

After a few years, Taketsura decided to start his own whiskey distillery in Hokkaido, just like he always wanted. After some changes, he named her Nikka , while Torii changed his company's name to Suntory (Torii san backwards). Today, Suntory and Nikka are still the largest and best-known whiskey distilleries in Japan. Both have won several international awards.

  • Hakushu Distillery , another Suntory facility, is nestled in the beautiful scenery of the Japanese Alps, a two-and-a-half hour train ride west of Tokyo.
  • On the cool northern island of Hokkaido, Yoichi Distillery is west of the city of Sapporo. She creates distinctive, peaty whiskeys that are popular in Japan and the rest of the world. The Yoichi distillery is owned by the Nikka company.

Demand for Japanese whiskey is growing and while the domestic market remains relatively stable, overseas consumers have taken notice of Japanese whisky. For those who want only the best, Japanese whiskeys are a godsend; its smooth flavor and consistent quality are admired by whiskey fans around the world.

Japanese whiskey makers often import barley from Scotland , some peated, some not, and still others importing from Australia . Oak, bourbon and sherry casks are often imported from Scotland, the USA and Spain.

But Japanese whiskey wouldn't be as remarkable as it is if it didn't have a bit of Japanese spice too. Japanese distillers have been ingenious in finding new ways to make their whiskey distinctively Japanese. Among other things, they have tried new stills with new shapes, many different types of yeast, malt and barley, new mixing techniques and all types of casks. Some whiskeys are allowed to mature in native Japanese oak. The distillers also carefully select the location for production, using only the highest quality water.

In addition to the distilleries already mentioned, there are many others that are worth mentioning.
  • After the famed Hanyu Distillery closed in 2000, Ichiro Akuto, the original owner's grandson, bought the remaining casks and continued his family's legacy by founding Chichibu Distillery in 2007. Today, Akuto is well known throughout the Japanese whiskey landscape as Chichibu Distillery, while still relatively small, has a reputation for experimentation that has found fans around the world.
  • Kaikyo Distillery, famous for its sake production, released its first two whiskies, a Hatozaki Blended and a Pure Malt, to celebrate its 100th anniversary a few years ago. The roots of Kaikyo Distillery date back to 1856 when the Yonezawa family founded the Akashi Sake Brewery, initially specializing in the distillation of rice alcohol.
  • Another Japanese whiskey distillery worth mentioning is undoubtedly Akkeshi , which was founded in 2013 by the Kenten Company and is sometimes referred to as "little Lagavulin " because of its resemblance to the famous Scottish distillery.

  • Adjacent to Lake Biwa, Japan's largest and most beautiful freshwater lake, travelers will find the tranquil, beautiful city of Nagahama and one of Japan's smallest distilleries, Nagahama. The blended whiskeys Amahagan take their name directly from the distillery - the word "Nagahama" means "Amahagan" upside down.

  • Shinshu Mars Distillery was established in 1985 and is located in Miyada, a village in Nagano Prefecture. At an altitude of around 800 m above sea level, it is the highest whiskey distillery in Japan.

  • Togouchi is a whiskey made by the Japanese distillery Chugoku Jozo near Hiroshima. This distillery has been producing liqueur, sake and shochu, a traditional Japanese alcohol, since 1918. In 1990 she started making whiskey and the Togouchi brand was born. The Togouchi whiskeys are all matured in a unique environment - a 361 meter long tunnel built in 1970. Thanks to a constant temperature of 14°C and humidity of 80%, it offers ideal conditions for aging.