Sunday, March 11, 2012

Say Konichiwa to St. Patrick's Week

It's St. Patrick's Day week, and you know what that means...a full week of blogging dedicated to Japanese Whisky. Why? Well, Japan makes some excellent whisky that is both under appreciated and under available in the US, I haven't written about Japanese Whisky in quite a while and, besides, I'm a contrarian.

What's that? You want to see a review of Redbreast Cask Strength? Well go take a look at every other damn whisky blog in the universe.

First some basics for those who might not be familiar with Japanese Whisky.

Japanese whisky is in the Scotch style. The industry was founded in the 1920s by a distiller who had trained in Scotland and it's kept that mold. The language of Japanese whisky is the same as that of Scotch with single malts, blends, single grains and vatted malts. In my experience, the quality of single malt Japanese whisky rivals that of single malt Scotch, with the best Japanese malts reaching the heights of the best Scotch malts (of course, as with anything, they aren't all great, and some are downright nasty).

There are only about a half dozen distilleries in Japan as well as a few closed distilleries that still have product. Very few of these whiskies are available in the United States, but I'm lucky to have a number of relatives who travel regularly to Japan so I'll report on some of what I've sampled in the past. Unlike the US, Europe gets a nice selection from Japan, which you can see from perusing sites like The Whisky Exchange and La Maison Du Whisky.

This week I'll be focus on the big two Japanese whisky companies (Suntory & Nikka), the closed distilleries and even a Japanese dusty for Dusty Thursday.

As always, the go-to on-line authority for Japanese Whisky is Chris Bunting's Nonjatta. If you see a fact about Japanese Whisky here, it undoubtedly came from Chris' site or one of his many excellent articles on the subject.

Happy St. Patrick's Week!


Greg said...

Steve - nice topic. I discovered Japanese Whisky early last year and love it. They do a fantastic job which is good for us whisky enthusiasts. I have both the 12 and 18 year Yamazaki and am looking to expand into other offerings like Hibiki but you are correct the selections are still puny.

Heather D. said...

We just found this exact set in our closet. The George Dickel special reserve is empty. We are trying to decide weather to drink it or sell it online. We would appreciate an idea of what it's worth, it sounds like you found a good deal but what do you think they would normally go for? Thanks!