Tag Archives: Japanese Whisky

The Onward Rise Of Japanese Whisky

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!

Japanese Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

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’.

Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

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.

I’ll have a Nikka. c/othewhiskeynut

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.

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.

Sláinte

Header image courtesy cityam.

A Four Country Blind Whiskey Tasting

4 Countries – 4 Whiskey.

No brands – no labels – no bias.

Stripped of back stories, tales of terroir, pricing or provenance – only my palate decides.

This is what I found.

Blackpitts c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Teeling Blackpitts, Single Malt, 46%, Ireland

With only 1 sample exhibiting gorgeous peaty aromas there wasn’t much competition. Blackpitts was a clear winner bursting with fresh vitality & flavourful bouquets. Being Teeling’s own distillate just adds icing on the cake.

Toki c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Suntory Toki, Blend, 43%, Japan

A fresh, clean engaging blend sporting lively grain elements with an enjoyable dry bite. A delightful offering.

Chivas c/oMasterOfMalt

Chivas Regal Extra, 13 Year Old, Blend, 40%, Scotland

A straightforward caramalised blend with a pleasing sherry finish. I find added caramel muddies the flavours & dulls them down a touch, loosing that fresh vitality along the way.

Dylan c/oPenderyn

Penderyn Icon Of Wales #3, Single Malt, 41%, Wales

Penderyn can be hit or miss with my palate. If it had been the fabulous peated Icon Of Wales #6, Royal Welsh – Blackpitts might have been under pressure! Dylan Thomas sadly just didn’t excite.

What would your palate have picked?

Sláinte

Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey, 42.5% & Straight Rye, 47%

You never know what you might find at Whiskey Live Dublin.

2 (1 of 1)
c/othewhiskeynut

I had intended to try some Scotch – but an amadán had decided to vape in the toilets & set off the fire alarms.

No joy there.

I missed out on Japanese too

Beam Suntory’s Toki offering had vanished – but I did try their soon to be released Kilbeggan Single Pot Still with 3% oats in the mix. Creamy & spicy all at the same time. Although I did struggle to fully appreciate what the oats brought to the whiskey in such a brief encounter.

2 (1 of 1)-25
McConnells of Belfast c/othewhiskeynut

The parent company behind Belfast’s McConnell’s release had an interesting trio of American Whiskeys however. Attractively presented & branded as Clyde May’s the Alabama Style Whiskey caught my eye.

What is Alabama Style?

2 (1 of 1)-27 crop
Alabama Style Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Turns out something to do with adding dried apples to the barrel. A look online provided a better insight here. I did get a fresh fruitiness on the nose.

Offered at 42.5% this was a decent full bodied whiskey I’d like to enjoy more off.

The Straight Rye also pleased me. A good balance of dry peppery spice with a wholesome body to boot.

2 (1 of 1)-27 rye
Clyde May’s Straight Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Both are sourced from Kentucky – but brand owners Conecuh are building a distillery of their own in Alabama.

Now that is a joy!

SlàinteGood Logo