Japanese Whisky has seen remarkable growth over the last few years – around 9.4% annually according to some sources – making it one of the fastest expanding categories in the world.
This in itself has sparked further interest – as well as criticism.
Such criticism often took the form of ‘not playing by the rules’ – Scotch rules that is.
But then that’s precisely why I – and many others perhaps – are attracted to Japanese Whisky – it’s not Scotch!
To begin with are the variety of attractively labelled & intricately designed bottles. Then there’s the blending, distilling & maturation techniques that wouldn’t be allowed under Scotch rules. Not forgetting the most important factor – fabulous taste!
I’ve always been of the view that Japanese Whisky played by different rules – which have worked very well for them – and accepted as given a bottle labelled as Japanese Whisky may not have contained 100% Japanese distillate.
But the wider world is not me – so Japan has now brought in a set of rules.
They’re a rather simple & easy framework stipulating the raw materials, production methods & maturation times used. Most importantly it states Japanese Whisky must be distilled, matured & bottled in Japan to be labelled as such.
Nikka have already indicated brands in their current range compliant with the rules & can therefore be labelled ‘Japanese Whisky’ – as well as those now heretofore ‘Whisky’.
Nikka Days is one such ‘Whisky’.
I found it a lovely simple yet elegantly balanced soft peater.
It’ll be interesting to see how the sales of such offerings will proceed under the new rules – or rather – as I suspect – Nikka will increase capacity to incorporate such brands into the ‘Japanese Whisky’ category.
A taste comparison between the current bottle and that of any future release will be an exciting prospect – but one I think will not yield much discernible difference.
With 100 years experience I’m sure Japanese distillers are capable of replicating the entertaining tastes & flavours I enjoy.
There is one potential loser in this however.
Scotch Whisky has for years built up a sizeable business supplying bulk whisky to various countries who then use it to augment their own spirits.
It’s a perfectly legitimate business – but one that now appears to be in jeopardy.
Such are the swings & roundabouts of the whisky business.
Header image courtesy cityam.