Single malt Scotch whisky is considered the epitome of excellence in the world of whiskies but Scottish distillers are facing increasing competition from the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan’s sought-after Nikka and Suntory whiskies are the two big names to corner the country’s domestic and export markets.
Japanese whisky is a rising star that boasts a more refined, subtle flavour and a greater richness of nuance. The water source is extraordinarily pure, like Scotch whiskies, hailing from the mountains near Tokyo. Interestingly, the Japanese import Scottish barley, while the Scots have it brought in from Eastern Europe. The distinctive peaty notes typical of Scotch whiskies are reserved for just a small group of Japanese whiskies.
The best Japanese whisky of 2022 is Suntory’s Yamazaki 12-year-old single malt. It is aged in Spanish, American and Scottish oak casks, giving it remarkable creaminess, subtlety and a wide range of nuances. Its mild, smooth flavour is well-balanced despite packing 43% alcohol content.
As for its flavour profile, what stands out is its floral, vanilla, and tropical fruit notes with a hint of cereal. The mouthfeel is intense, rounded and complex, offering a fruity sweetness at first that evolves into a spicy, long, smooth, fruity finish, with a tinge of dry, woody flavours.