What made Japanese whiskey get so damn popular?

Japanese Whiskey

The whiskey produced and developed in Japan is termed as the Japanese whiskey. The production of whiskey began in and around 1870 in Japan, although the 1st lot was produced after the first ever distillery, Yamazaki was opened in 1924. The general style and type of Japanese whiskey are very similar to the ones from Scotland rather than that of the other ones.

With all of the companies that are producing whiskeys nowadays in Japan, the first and the foremost one to do so were Suntory and Nikka. These two distilleries produce both single malt and blended malt whiskeys. The main out of their blended section being the Suntory kakubin and the Black Nikka Clear.

The two main characters on the basis of the Japanese Whisky would be Masataka Taketsuru and Shinjiro Torii. Kotobukiya was founded by Shinjiro Torii, who was a wholesaler. He was successful after he created “Akdama Port Wine” on the basis of Portuguese wine after he imported western liquor. He then created Japanese whiskey for Japanese people after he was not completely satisfied with his success. Without giving any response to all the oppositions from the executives he still went ahead and created the distillery in Yamazaki, Kyoto.

The American Force soldiers were the first to taste the Japanese whiskey in September 1918 while they took leaves in Hakodate. Queen George was easily available at that time which was described as a whiskey from Scotland prepared in Japan. It was different from the scotch whiskey and quite potent in itself.


5 Things You Need To Know About Japanese Whisky

The Japanese whiskey has come out as a rising star in these recent years. With all the other places producing the same product what is so different about this whiskey. Below are given some points that show what the differences are.


  • It’s New: Japanese whiskey was produced since the 1920’s with the opening of the first ever distillery company, Yamazaki near Kyoto. During the 20th century the major selling and buying process of the whiskey was generally inside Japan, but with the time and the production grew on a major scale and was spread in North America and Europe.
  • Production: Japanese whiskeys generally were made with the style of Scottish whiskey. The Suntory’s master distiller was studying in Scotland, and hence he wanted to take some of the drink homes and thus the whiskey was produced in the same way as that of the Scottish ones. They were distilled twice. Also, barley is imported from Scotland to be mixed with the whiskey.
  • The Missing “E”: The whiskey produced in Japan is very similar to the Scottish ones, and thus the major qualities are very similar in comparison to the other kind of whiskeys such as the Irish or American ones. So, with the similarities, the names are also similar, and hence they miss an “e” in the name.
  • Pop Culture: Japanese whiskey made a very significant appearance in Lost in Translation in 2003. Bill Murray featured as Bob Harris, a character that heads up to Japan for the famous Suntory whiskey.
  • A Winner: The Japanese whiskey after its invention has won a lot of prizes and fame in the world. It was given the World Whisky Bible coup. In 2001, a whiskey magazine named the Nikka’s Yoichi whiskey the “Best of the Best” during a tasting. Suntory’s Hibiki (30 years) also won the “International Spirits Challenge” in 2003.

10 of the famous Japanese whiskeys to try:

Generally when we talk about whiskey the first place that would pop up, would be Scotland but in the last few years, there is a turn of events in the making of the whiskey. In these years, Japan has grown as the leading whiskey producer with two of the best powerhouses 1) Nikka and 2) Suntory.


These are two very important distilleries that are the first in the process of production of Japanese whiskey. Masataka Taketsuru created Nikka in 1920 and released the first whiskey from Nikka in 1940. Another person fond of scotch whiskey, Shinjiro Torii was the creator of Suntory. Given below are 10 of the best Japanese Whiskies:


  • Nikka Single Malt Yoichi:This type is supposed to explain the character of Nikka i.e. Fruity yet Smoky which is done with Peat is a key element in most of the whiskeys providing us with a smoky, bacony taste. After the peaty flavor, we get the very old citrus aroma that a whiskey lover would expect out of a bottle that is a Nikka. The palate is complete with the peaty and fruit like taste with the hint of slight saltiness.
  • Suntory Hibiki: Shinji Fukoyo blends the best of the single malts with his owns hands in order to give us this intense amber drink. A nutty and sweet aroma is experienced. The palate is generally sweet with overloaded textures of honey. It is generally tempered with an oaky finish with cocoa evident in it.
  • Nikka from the Barrel: This lot is the most affordable out of all the ones produced by the Nikka Distilleries. The aromas coming through are a combination of freshly ground meadow and pepper. To taste, a strong fruity taste with hints of orange with the presence of cinnamon and cloves is experienced.
  • Suntory Hibiki:This much acclaimed whiskey has topped the blended whiskey category four times at the prestigious World Whiskey Awards, and in 2014 it scored 96 out of 100 in Jim Murray’s influential Whiskey Bible. The smell that you get is of fruits and spices that are dried. The taste is of a deep oaky flavor with an intense caramel taste with the smokiness at the end. This lot is a very hard one to find, so if you’re looking for it, it’s better to search for it from a while go.
  • Coffey Grain (Nikka):This whiskey is made from corn and some bourbon. The aromas are a strong sweet essence with hints of vanilla. The tastes that are acquired are similar to that of the aromas, with maple syrup tingling on the tongue combined with vanilla and brown sugar with the corn to finish.
  • Miyagikyo Single Malt (Nikka):This is one whiskey that speaks for the fact that the age of the drink is measured by the age of it. The people from the bar explained that the distilleries generally don’t want us to stick to the older ones just because, the less old ones might not taste as good as it is. The smell is of a freshly baked apple pie that is warm and has a floral essence. The taste to it is described more on the citric side with toasted barley and almonds. The aftertaste would be of the barley and a nutty flavor.
  • Suntory Yamazaki:This whiskey is generally described as the “legendary” and has won the gold in the World Spirits Challenge in 2017. The aromas are very soothing with tonnes of vanilla and almonds with the tastes of citrus and woods. A zesty aftertaste is also left. This is a very hard to find material of the lot though definitely, it’s a worthy drink.
  • Mars Komagatake: This is different from that of the ones produced in Suntory and Nikka but has a huge following in Japan. It is under the Shinshu producers, smaller than Nikka or Suntory but larger than the other ones present. The taste of it is a lot fruity and is very light and packs a surprise for people.
  • Ichiro’s Malt: This is a new type of a lot of whiskeys but is very popular within the time it has been on the market. The whole series of the 54 cards is a 50% of a million dollars. The tastes are floral, with sandalwood and gingerbread with some vanilla as well.
  • Suntory Hakushu:This lot is produced in Suntory’s forest distillery, with the use of the pure water from Japan’s Southern Alps. This is described as the “Ideal for Cultural and Adventurous dads” because of its delicate yet balanced taste. The smell is a mixture is natural aromas, with the domination of meadow and the complimentary taste of barley with a slight The taste is fruity, but this is the dominating taste of the grass and the smoke. Also, the end gives the clear mineral finish because of the fresh water.

So now hopefully you get the idea what is that thing and element that has made Japanese whiskey so popular in the world. Japanese whiskey is dominating the other ones which turned out to be a good thing for the ones who love whiskey. After years of experimenting and perfecting the product they came out with, Japanese whiskey has now proved its worth, several times. Many of them can compete even with the Scottish single malts but with a price lower than that, which again is a good point. So, this is what it is all about the Japanese whiskey that makes it special.