When you see whiskey, you probably think of the green hills of Ireland or Scotland, and even the Tennessee and Kentucky in the US, but did you know you can find the same enjoyment in Japanese whiskies? Discover Nikka, Hibiki, Suntory, and Yamazaki, fashioned after Scotch and spelled “whisky”?
The Japanese create their whisky from double-distilled peated or malted barley and age it in wooden barrels. The taste is much like Scotch: dry, earthy, smoky, and peaty. Unlike single malt, these inventions are blended, with slight flavor variances in every batch. They focus on creating a subtle, “polished” taste instead of a distinguished style. The exceptional yet well-balanced liquor also tends to be softer than Scotch.
Autonomous Japanese distillers strive for perfection. Every distillery masters many skills and styles to express singular, rich, and deep profiles. Also, Japanese whisky makers have several benefits, including superior water purity, a collection of flavor-enhancing yeasts, high elevations with lower boiling points for a smoother drink, and faster mellowing for temptingly aged flavor profiles.
The market for whisky from Japan has surged recently. For example, one distillery that sold 400 cases in 2006 now sells over 40,000 annually. Unsurprisingly, with a mere nine active distilleries in the country and available stock still unable to meet demand, this sought-after exclusive item remains difficult to find and premium-priced for devotees.
History and Origins of Whisky in Japan
Masataka Taketsuru learned how to make whisky in several premium Scotch distilleries while studying organic chemistry at the University of Glasgow. Upon his return to Japan, he gained experience at Suntory, eventually founding Yoichi Distillery, followed by the success story of Nikka Whisky on Hokkaido, an island offering a climate similar to Scotland’s. Today, Suntory and Nikka supply more than 75% of the annual whisky market in Japan.
Japanese Whisky Production Process
Japanese malt whisky comes from mashed, malted barley and double distilled in copper pot stills. When adding grain, manufacturers use a continuous column still. They remove or incorporate the congener residue before aging it in wooden casks. Japanese distillers occasionally use Japanese Mizunara oak, ex-American oak bourbon, or ex-Sherry barrels to add a fresh, fruity zest to the final product.
The Japanese blend their beverage in-house, using unique equipment and techniques, while Scottish distilleries focus on a single process and consistency, creating fusions from several different distilleries. Hence, Suntory can generate more than 100 malt whiskies, including unique flavors.
Japanese Whisky Favorites and Food Pairings
Among the most well-known is the smooth, subtle, sweet, citrusy, and intensely malty Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Single Malt. Other favorites include toasty Nikka Whisky From The Barrel for a lovely toffee note and Toki Suntory Whisky, which is an affordable, entry-level choice. Why not mix it in a ginger highball or another cocktail for satisfying vanilla, coconut, and honey notes?
How can connoisseurs combine these exceptional whiskies respectfully with a beverage often enjoyed at mealtime in Japan? The secret is in recognizing and increasing the veiled layers of aroma. The whisky is subtle, so avoid strong or sharp food tastes such as citrus and combine it with fish, mild meats, and earthy vegetables. Traditional pairing guidelines include selecting the following:
- Foods that don’t subdue the softer aroma.
- Salty, spicy, or sweet food to enhance fruity flavors.
- Fatty foods that reduce the alcohol kick and reveal original flavors.
- Smoked foods to accentuate caramel tones.
- Bitter or sour food pairing to balance the whisky’s saltiness and sweetness.
Combining with Japanese dishes is ideal. So, enjoy the product with tempuras, gyozas or sushi. Other successful partners include dark chocolate, white fish sashimi, smoked salmon, kaki-pi, Kobe beef, tonkatsu, daifuku mochi, and tayaki cakes. Combinations with everyday Western fare may be trickier, but it is possible – just respect the basics.
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Apart from the excitement over Japanese whisky, whiskey-flavored or infused products such as ice cream, coffee, confectionaries, maple syrups, hot sauces, and non-alcoholic mocktails have gained popularity consistently. So, keep your flavor and aroma profiles equally inimitable, fresh, and pure by relying on Advanced Biotech’s 100% natural and EU-certified distillates collection. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to place your order.