Japanese Whisky Including Whiskies From Suntory and Nikka

Japanese Whisky

Japanese malt whisky production is very much modelled on the Scottish system of being double distilled in pot stills. So its not surprising that many who try a Japanese Whisky for the first time find it has more than a slight similarity to Scotch Whisky. However the Japanese do have some maturing methods exclusive to themselves, such as Suntory who mature their whiskies in casks made from the rare slow growing Japanese oak wood.

One Scottish thing that the Japanese cannot emulate is the Scottish climate. Japanese whisky is matured in climates similar to that which American Bourbon is matured, so it is quite an interesting comparison between Scotch and Bourbon, with the Japanese Whisky being produced with Scotch style methods and matured in a climate similar to which American Bourbons are matured in.

You may also be interested in our special feature on Nikka Whisky which includes the history of the company, the whiskies it produces and tasting notes for all its core range of whisky. See here Nikka Whisky

Japanese Whiskies

Suntory Yamazaki
A malt whisky from the first whisky distillery to be built in Japan. Suntory whiskies tend to be rather lightly peated and distinctively woody, with sweet fruity overtones.
Nikka are said to produce more Scotch style whisky than their larger rivals Suntory. Their whiskies have rather more body to them and have more character notes of peat, fruit and elements from a Bourbon cask.
Single Malt from Nikka's Sendai distillery, which produces a light, fruity malt.
Part of the Nikka group, which was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, a genuine hero in world whisky who studied whisky production in 1920s Scotland, at Longmorn and Hazelburn among other places. Sendai produces a Lowland style whisky.
A pure malt from Nikka, named in honour of their founder, who worked at Longmorn, and Hazelburn distilleries in the early 19th Century.
Yoichi was founded in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru, a genuine hero in world whisky who studied whisky production in 1920s Scotland, at Longmorn and Hazelburn among other places. Yoichi produces a big, oily spirit, in the Highland style.
Japanese single malt from Suntory's Hakushu Distillery. Excellent stuff, with a distinctive peaty character not unlike Caol Ila.

Where To Buy Japanese Whiskies Online

As the popularity of Japanese Whiskies increases they are becoming more available outside Japan. You will find a good selection at the following online whisky shops:


Some Japanese Whisky Facts

  • The first Japanese whisky was created in 1924.
  • There are now 10 distilleries in Japan.
  • Japan is the 4th biggest whisky producing country worldwide.
  • In March 2002, a Japanese single malt, the Yoichi 10 years, was voted best whisky of the year by Whisky Magazine.
  • In 2006, 50,000 bottles of Japanese whisky were sold in Europe (compared with 5,000 in 2001).

Whisky Guide:

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