Japanese whiskey - whiskey from Japan (2023)

Many people know that Japanese whiskey, like Japanese whisky, is admired around the world. Although Japanese whiskey production has a short history, it has been ranked among the top five whiskeys in the world and has established itself as a whiskey producing country.


What is Japanese whiskey?

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Japanese whiskey is aalcoholic beverageor a style of whiskey developed and produced in Japan. While many companies inJapanproduce whisky, Suntory and Nikka are the best known and best available. Both distill both blended malt whiskeys and single malts. For the first time, the Japanese Liquor Brewers Association (Chuo, Tokyo, President Hideki Kanda) recently established criteria for what constitutes “Japanese whisky”, which includes home distillation and the use of Japanese water. The following requirements must be met for a whiskey to be called Japanese whiskey: (1) the raw materials must be malt and water collected in Japan, and (2) the whiskey must be made in a domestic still.

History of Japanese Whiskey

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The history of Japanese whiskey dates back to the early 20th century when a young Japanese chemist named Masataka Taketsuru traveled to Scotland to study the art of whiskey making.

The process fascinated Taketsuru and he returned to Japan with a wealth of knowledge and experience, determined to create a Japanese whiskey to rival the finest Scotch whisky.

In 1923, the Kotobukiya company (now known as Suntory) commissioned Taketsuru to establish a whiskey distillery in Yamazaki, outside of Kyotoj. This was the first whiskey distillery in Japan and Taketsuru used his knowledge of Scotch techniques to create a whiskey that blends the best of Japanese and Scotch traditions.

There was limited whiskey production in Japan during World War II, but after the end of the war the demand for Japanese whiskey began to grow. During the 1960s and 1970s, Japanese whiskey gained international recognition and won several prestigious awards, helping to establish Japan as a serious player in the whiskey world.

Today, Japanese whiskey is prized for its quality, craftsmanship and unique flavor profile and enjoyed by whiskey lovers around the world.

Types of Japanese whiskey


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The "malt" in Single Malt refers to the malted barley, which is the raw material of the whiskey. Single malt whiskey is made in just one distillery, while whiskey is a blend of ingredients from multiple distilleries. An example of this type is "Suntory Yamazaki Non-Vintage Malt Whisky". It has a mild and beautiful aroma and is delicious with a mild aftertaste.

Blended Whisky

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Blended whiskey is blended with malt whiskey made from barley malt and grain whiskey made from grain. Several unblended whiskeys are blended resulting in a balanced flavor compared to single malt whisky. Suntory Old Whiskey is the perfect example of this style. It is the most elegant of all Suntory whiskeys. It also has a fruity and sour aroma and a smooth taste.

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Grain Whisky

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Grain whiskey is grain whiskey. The Japanese used this as the base for blended whiskeys rather than selling it as single grain whisky. The "Chita Suntory Grain Whiskey" is a smooth, smooth single grain whiskey with unparalleled sophistication and a clean, clear finish.

Recommended producers of Japanese whiskey

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Suntory is a recommended producer for anyone who wants to choose from a wide range of Japanese whisky. They offer a wide range of whiskeys from blended whiskeys suitable for highballs to single malt whiskeys suitable for rock.


Nikka Whiskey is a producer that offers a wide range of well-priced, easy-to-drink blended whiskeys. The bearded man logo is famous.


Kirin is popular as a brewer. There are fewer styles of Japanese whiskey compared to Suntory and Nikka whiskey, but they have a variety of things that are easy to drink and taste.

Why did Japan become one of the top 5 whiskey producers in the world?

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In the 2001 Best of the Best whiskey competition, Nikka Whiskey's single cask Yoichi 10 Years Old took first place overall, while Suntory's Hibiki 21 Years Old took second place. Many recognized Japanese whiskey as "the most delicious in the world", surpassing other whiskeys from around the world such as Scotch, American and Irish. The Best of the Best has since changed its name to the World Whiskey Awards (WWA) and has grown into one of the most prestigious whiskey competitions.

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Since then, Japanese whiskey has successively won prizes in foreign competitions. The popularity of Japanese whiskey gradually increased in Japan and abroad. In addition, since the mid-1990s, the number of people preferring single malts has increased, and many malt bars serving single malts have appeared, mainly in Tokyo.

Although many people rank Japanese whiskey in the top 5 in the world, it is not as old as Scotch, Irish, American or Canadian whisky. The first single malt was launched in 2008 and since then has received numerous awards at international spirits competitions. The cherished flavor of Japanese whiskey is a key factor in its growing popularity. They are highly valued for their subtle taste and aroma. The taste of whiskey is greatly influenced by the type of wood used to construct the casks, as whiskey is a spirit aged in wooden casks.

Japanese Whiskey FAQ

What are the characteristics of Japanese whiskey?

The characteristics of Japanese whiskey can be broadly characterized as "a whiskey with a smooth, delicate flavor that has evolved and developed in its own way while shaping Scotch whiskey".

"Whiskey" or "whiskey", which is more popular in Japan?

American is often spelled in school textbooks and when learning English in Japan, but domestic whiskey is spelled “whiskey”. This is probably why Masataka Taketsuru, who played a central role in the birth of domestic whiskey, went to Scotland in 1918 to study whiskey production.

Japanese whiskey distilleries

For those who want to order or buy Japanese whiskey but live far from Japan. You can ship Japanese whiskey from Rakuten. You ship to other countries, just log inHereand get your personal Japan address to ship your items. Then you can easily shop from some ecommerce stores and choose your preferred delivery method. You can easily access and buy this Japanese whiskey online and you can find several stores that sell Japanese whiskey on Rakuten. Just click on itHereto the list.

Destilaria Yoichi/Yoichi

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A distillery founded by Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whiskey, famous for the drama "Massan". After training in Scotland, Masataka found hope in Yoichi, Hokkaido, a northern country where the climate is very similar to Scotland's.

Address:7-6 Kurokawa-cho, Yoichi-cho, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido 046-0003
Telephone number: 013-523-3131
Hours of Operation: Open 9am-5pm on Sundays

Destilaria Miyagikyo

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The second distillery after the Yoichi Distillery, founded by Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whiskey. Built in a location with a similar climate to the Lowlands region of Scotland, the line's arms are directed upwards to achieve a beautiful and smooth whiskey without blending, giving Yoichi a contrasting impression.

Address:1 Nikka, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture 989-3433
Telephone number: 022-395-2865
Hours of Operation: Open 9am-4.30pm on Sundays


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Hakkai Jozo, known for his "Hakkaisan" sake, accepted the challenge of making whiskey. Completed on December 21, 2020, it also makes gin while the whiskey ages. Our goal is to create a refined, delicate and balanced whiskey that is typical of Japan.

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Address:478-15 Niseko, Stadt Niseko, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 048-1511
Telephone number: 0136-55-6432

Japanese whiskey bars

Orchid bar

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The Orchid Bar is the flagship bar that guests from all over the world have loved since the Hotel Okura Tokyo opened in 1962. With an ample selection of single malts and blended malts, this is the perfect bar to hang out like a grown-up. with a slightly stretched spine.

Address:The Okura Tokyo Prestige Tower 5F, 2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tóquio 105-0001
Phone: 03-3505-6076
Opening hours: 15:00-24:00 (food LO 23:00 drink LO 23:30); open on Sundays

Tokio Whisky-Bibliothek

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The nearly-filled Tokyo Whiskey Library opened in Omotesando in 2016. As the name of the "Library" suggests, there are over 1000 types of masterpieces. Not to mention all the brands from all over the world, we also cover precious vintage bottles that were bottled over decades ago.

Address:107-0062 5-5-24 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tóquio Minami-Aoyama Kirche Santa Kiara 2F
Telephone number: 03-6434-1163
Opening Hours: Lunchtime 12:00~15:00 (L.O 14:00); Dinner Time 5:30pm to 11:00pm (L.O. 10:30pm)


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Japanese whiskey is a true testament to Japan's rich history and culture. From its humble beginnings to its rise to international acclaim, Japanese whiskey is a true work of art, crafted with passion and dedication. With its smooth and unique flavor profile, it's no wonder Japanese whiskey has captured the hearts of whiskey enthusiasts around the world.

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