Japanese Whisky

Sylvia Simm | 09. April 2024

The tradition of alcohol production in Japan is very old. Sake is said to have been distilled since the third century BC.

Although Japan has only been a Whisky producer on the market since 1924, it now has a very large whisky industry. The production process is strongly modelled on that of Scotland. Masataka Taketsuru learnt the craft of distilling in Scotland and, as master distiller at the first Yamazaki distillery built by Torii Shinjirō, he used this knowledge to create the first Japanese Whisky.

There are now distilleries with a global reputation. These include Suntory and Nikka. Other renowned distilleries are Hakushu, Chichibu and Miyagikyo. Since the first World Whiskies Awards in 2007 at the latest, Japanese Whisky has been one of the world's best and, alongside Scotland, Ireland, the USA and India, one of the greatest. Kanpai!

Japanese Whisky offers a variety of styles and is considered smooth, balanced and sometimes subtle. Global demand means that there is sometimes a shortage, causing the price to soar. Limited bottlings are coveted as collector's items.

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Interesting to know!

If Japanese terms, city names or images of well-known Japanese places such as mountains or rivers are to appear on the bottle label, all ingredients must come from Japan. The production process, including storage and bottling, must also take place in Japan.

In addition to ex-bourbon and various sherry casks, storage also takes place in Mizunara oak casks and occasionally in Sakura (cherry) casks.

You can find all the interesting details about the production here: https://www.whisky.de/herstellung-japanischer-whisky.html

Single Malt

Following the Scottish model, the Japanese single malt is also made exclusively from barley malt and is distilled in pot stills to a maximum alcohol content of 95%. The subsequent maturation period in casks must also be at least three years. It is bottled with at least 40% alcohol. Single malt comes from a single distillery.

A selection of Japanese Single Malts

Suntory Hakushu 100th Anniversary Edition (B-Ware) 12 Years
Suntory Hakushu 100th Anniversary Edition (B-Ware) 12 Years
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Suntory Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve
Suntory Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Suntory Hakushu 100th Anniversary Edition 12 Years
Suntory Hakushu 100th Anniversary Edition 12 Years
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Kanosuke Limited Edition /2023
Kanosuke Limited Edition /2023
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Nikka Yoichi Single Malt
Nikka Yoichi Single Malt
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Suntory Hakushu 18 Years
Suntory Hakushu 18 Years
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Suntory Hakushu Distiller's Reserve (B-Ware)
Suntory Hakushu Distiller's Reserve (B-Ware)
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Kanosuke
Kanosuke
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Suntory Hakushu Distiller's Reserve
Suntory Hakushu Distiller's Reserve
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Suntory Yamazaki 100th Anniversary Edition 12 Years
Suntory Yamazaki 100th Anniversary Edition 12 Years
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Suntory Hakushu 12 Years
Suntory Hakushu 12 Years
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Chichibu Ichiro's Malt The Peated /2022
Chichibu Ichiro's Malt The Peated /2022
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT

Blended Whisky

Japan offers a speciality here! Blending whisky, i.e. creating a special blend, is considered a fine art. It is the balanced flavour of a Japanese blend that appeals to the Japanese. In terms of hierarchy and reputation, the master blender is above the distiller. For a Japanese blend, 10 to 40 per cent malt whisky is used, the rest is grain whisky.

The Japanese love their blend - in summer, they drink it with plenty of cold water, even with food. In winter, it is mixed with warm or even hot water to make a kind of grog.

A selection of Japanese blended Whiskies

Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt (B-Ware)
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt (B-Ware)
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Kamiki Intense Wood (B-Ware)
Kamiki Intense Wood (B-Ware)
0,5/ l · incl.  VAT
Chichibu Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries
Chichibu Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Nikka Session
Nikka Session
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Mars Kasei
Mars Kasei
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Mars Kasei (B-Goods)
Mars Kasei (B-Goods)
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Shinobu Pure Malt (B-Ware)
Shinobu Pure Malt (B-Ware)
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Mars Maltage 'Cosmo' Wine Cask Finish /2023
Mars Maltage 'Cosmo' Wine Cask Finish /2023
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Hatozaki Pure Malt
Hatozaki Pure Malt
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
The Kurayoshi 12 Years
The Kurayoshi 12 Years
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Hatozaki Pure Malt (B-Ware)
Hatozaki Pure Malt (B-Ware)
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT

Grain Whisky

In addition to a small proportion of malt, various other types of grain such as wheat or maize are used. The grains are predominantly processed into blends and only very rarely bottled as single grains.

A selection of Japanese grain Whiskies

Nikka Coffey Malt
Nikka Coffey Malt
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Nikka The Grain Whisky /2023
Nikka The Grain Whisky /2023
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Nikka Coffey Grain
Nikka Coffey Grain
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Nikka Coffey Grain (B-Ware)
Nikka Coffey Grain (B-Ware)
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Nikka Coffey Malt (B-Ware)
Nikka Coffey Malt (B-Ware)
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Suntory Chita (B-Ware)
Suntory Chita (B-Ware)
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Kujira 10 Years
Kujira 10 Years
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT
Suntory The Chita
Suntory The Chita
0,7/ l · incl.  VAT

Japanese Whisky and Fukushima

It has been over ten years since the nuclear accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan! If you are interested in the topic, watch the video and read our article from back then.

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Sylvia Simm is an experienced employee of Whisky.de. After more than 20 years in online sales and service, she supports the company with her extensive whisky knowledge in marketing. As online editor and content manager, she is responsible for editing and updating the texts on the knowledge pages.

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