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Japanese Whisky

Japan
Although an unknown quantity to many, Japanese Whisky has been awarded many an accolade by Whisky reviewers and connoisseurs around the world. It seems that the Japanese have quietly perfected their own version of this distilled spirit and, as whiskey enthusiasts, it’s essential that we find out what all the fuss is about!

History of Japanese Whisky

Japanese whisky has been around for quite a while. Production of whisky in Japan began around 1870, with serious production commencing with the opening of Japan's first commercial distillery in 1923.

The commercial Japanese whisky industry can be largely attributed to its two founding fathers: Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru. Shinjiro established the Suntory brand, founding his (and the country’s) first distillery in 1923. Named Yamazaki, located in the Vale of Yamazaki, Taketsuru followed this first distillery swiftly, with the launch of Yoichi on Hokkaido 11 years later. Scotch and Japanese Whisky may share similarities in their production methods, but it's relatively easy to tell one from the other.

Taketsuru was famously visited Scotland in 1918 to enroll himself in a ‘crash course’ of whisky-making. He studied in Glasgow and followed with practical experience in both Speyside and Campbeltown before returning to Japan with a passion, experience and a Scottish wife.

Taketsuru joined forces with Torii in 1921. His vision was to build a distillery on the remote northern island of Hokkaido, as he considered this part of the country to most mirror Scotland in climate and resources. However, Torii feared this was too far from the main markets of central Honshu. He opposed the idea and instead Yamazaki was eventually built on the outskirts of Kyoto in 1923.

Taketsuru worked as Yamazaki’s first distillery manager for over 10 years before leaving to strike out alone and finally realise his dream of building of the Yoichi distillery on Hokkaido.

Almost 100 years later, the companies founded by the two men – Suntory and Nikka– still dominate the Japanese whisky industry, with a surprising meagre four distilleries between them.

Over the century of production, the Japanese distillers developed a very different model of distillation. The Japanese distilleries produce an array of styles due to their selection of different still shapes and sizes. They also use a range of peated and unpeated barley, different yeast strains, fermentations, cut points and a variety of cask options. Suntory’s Hakushu distillery once produced around 30m litres of spirit a year, making it the largest plant of its kind in the world at the time

Characteristics of Japanese Whisky

Japanese whiskies are crafted, essentially, in the Scottish style. (Hence their nod Scotland in their choice of spelling). Reasonably delicate and perfumed with honeyed sweetness., they’re considered to fall between Lowland and Speyside whiskies in their style. Often with light sherry and floral notes, they are also sometimes peated for a smoky, almost-Islay style.

Where to Start with Japanese Whisky

If Japanese whisky intrigues you as much as it does us, why not start with a few of our favourites here at Frootbat. Trust us, you won’t regret delving into these light, fragrant expressions. Enjoy!
FROOTBAT HAS 35 PRODUCTS FROM THE Japanese Whisky REGION AVAILABLE TO SHIP TO United States
FROOTBAT HAS 35 PRODUCTS FROM THE Japanese Whisky REGION AVAILABLE TO SHIP TO United States
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Hibiki Deep Harmony Blended Whisky
Suntory Hibiki Deep Harmony Blended Whisky 700ml Bottle
$2,499.991 buying option
The Hakushu Distillers Reserve Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Hakushu Distillers Reserve Single Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$179.991 buying option
Miyagikyo 15 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Nikka Miyagikyo 15 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$799.991 buying option
Taketsuru Pure Malt 21 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 21 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$599.991 buying option
Hibiki Japanese Harmony Blended Whisky
Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony Blended Whisky 750ml Bottle
$99.991 buying option
Yoichi 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Nikka Yoichi 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$69.991 buying option
Iwai Tradition Blended Japanese Whisky
Mars Iwai Tradition Blended Japanese Whisky 750ml Bottle
$26.979 buying options
Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$249.997 buying options
Coffey Grain Whisky
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky 750ml Bottle
$46.0945 buying options
Taketsuru Pure Malt Blended Malt Japanese Whisky
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt Blended Malt Japanese Whisky 750ml Bottle
$54.998 buying options
Malt Chichibu Port Pipe Single Malt Whisky
Ichiro's Malt Chichibu Port Pipe Single Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$999.991 buying option
Taketsuru Pure Malt 21 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 21 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$349.996 buying options
The 12 Year Old Premium Blended Whisky
Nikka The 12 Year Old Premium Blended Whisky 750ml Bottle
$195.001 buying option
Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$599.991 buying option
Akashi Japanese Blended Whisky
White Oak Akashi Japanese Blended Whisky 750ml Bottle
$44.993 buying options
Miyagikyo Single Malt Japanese Whisky
Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt Japanese Whisky 750ml Bottle
$70.994 buying options
Yoichi Single Malt Japanese Whisky
Nikka Yoichi Single Malt Japanese Whisky 750ml Bottle
$70.994 buying options
Coffey Malt Whisky
Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$56.9826 buying options
The Yamazaki 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Yamazaki 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$799.952 buying options
The Hakushu 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Hakushu 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$163.979 buying options
The Yamazaki 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Yamazaki 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$139.991 buying option
Malt Chichibu On The Way Single Malt Whisky
Ichiro's Malt Chichibu On The Way Single Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$199.991 buying option
Malt MWR - Mizunara Wood Reserve Pure Malt Whisky
Ichiro's Malt MWR - Mizunara Wood Reserve Pure Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$399.991 buying option
Hibiki 21 Year Old Blended Whisky
Suntory Hibiki 21 Year Old Blended Whisky 750ml Bottle
$999.991 buying option
The Hakushu Distillers Reserve Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Hakushu Distillers Reserve Single Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$175.001 buying option
From The Barrel Japanese Whisky
Nikka From The Barrel Japanese Whisky 750ml Bottle
$69.995 buying options
The Hakushu 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Hakushu 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$399.996 buying options
The Yamazaki Mizunara Japanese Oak Cask 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Yamazaki Mizunara Japanese Oak Cask 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$3,999.974 buying options
The Yamazaki Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Yamazaki Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky 750ml Bottle
$2,999.991 buying option
The Yamazaki Limited Edition 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Yamazaki Limited Edition 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$1,099.991 buying option
Malt & Grain Chichibu Blended Whisky
Ichiro's Malt & Grain Chichibu Blended Whisky 750ml Bottle
$99.994 buying options
Hibiki 17 Year Old Blended Whisky
Suntory Hibiki 17 Year Old Blended Whisky 750ml Bottle
$65.001 buying option
The Hakushu 18 Year Old Limited Edition Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Hakushu 18 Year Old Limited Edition Single Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$999.991 buying option
Coffey Vodka
Nikka Coffey Vodka 750ml Bottle
$32.9925 buying options
Toki Whisky
Suntory Toki Whisky 750ml Bottle
$27.9966 buying options
The Yamazaki Limited Edition Single Malt Whisky
Suntory The Yamazaki Limited Edition Single Malt Whisky 700ml Bottle
$549.001 buying option
Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master's Select Limited Edition Blended Whisky
Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master's Select Limited Edition Blended Whisky 700ml Bottle
$299.991 buying option
Coffey Gin
Nikka Coffey Gin 750ml Bottle
$41.9915 buying options
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