Japanese whisky is much older than people often realise, with the first malt distillery producing spirit in 1923.
The past century has seen a small number of distilleries define a wide range of Japanese whisky styles, but since the early 2000s there has been a rapid acceleration in both popularity and innovation
Where there once only one or two distilleries, this number has increased, and Japanese whisky is expanding and being more creative within a new era of whisky making.
Two ‘founding fathers’
Shinjiro Torii - established the Suntory brand and the first distillery Yamazaki in the Vale of Yamazaki, suburb of Kyoto in 1923
Wholesaler, started importing western liquor and made a local wine based on a Portuguese wine – made him a successful merchant
Unhappy though and wanted to make a local whisky for local people
Part of the distillery was built on the site of a former temple. When constructing the distillery, they decided to build a shrine to symbolize this and there are always two casks of maturing whisky placed there as an offerings to the gods
Torii employed MasatakaTaketsuru as a distillery executive. He had spent `many years in Scotland studying and learning the art of distilling there – brought his skills back to Japan in the 20s
He went on to found Yoichi on Hokkaido eleven years later
We tasted five excellent whiskies from the land of the rising sun:
  1. Hatozaki Pure Malt
  2. Suntory Hakushu Distiller's Reserve
  3. Tokinoka Black Blended Whisky
  4. Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt
  5. Akashi Single Malt (previously tasted in 2017)