By: David Othenin-Girard
K&L Staff Member
When people ask me to describe Japanese Whisky in the shop I typically go on a long winding history about Nikka's founder Taketsuru-san. His vision nearly 100 years ago is larger responsible for the high quality Japanese Whisky we see today. Of course in a more simplistic version, Japanese Whisky is basically made exactly like Scotch. Yes there are subtle differences in technique and style, but the image that Taketsuru-san brought back from Scotland in the 1920s has remained largely unchanged. That's why it's difficult to describe Japanese Whisky without explaining Scotch to someone. But, this little whisky is something so uniquely Japanese it stands apart from the rest of the category. The Scottish have certainly tried to distill Malted Whisky on a column still (over the course of the last 150+ years) but almost certainly abandoned the exercise due to the incredible costs as compared to standard grain whisky production. In this case they've taken the same wort that would go into their Single Malt and run it through the column still. Further more it's aged in high quality ex-bourbon rather than 3 and 4th fill hogshead. In a lot of ways this whisky is the most distinctly Japanese product on the shelf (with the exception of the malted rice whiskies like Ohishi and Fukano). Anyway, the result is ultra refined and subtle, but filled with character. Usually the term smooth is the most meaningless in the business, but this one definitely qualifies. Easy, but with an edgy earthiness almost briny note and sweet stone fruit to balance. Certainly not high on the intensity meter, but extremely well put together and appealing style. Great cross over from American and Irish Whiskey lovers.