Dipping into Japanese Whisky

Of Rice and Malt

 

While we spend a lot of time talking about what typifies Japanese whisky as a category, it is far from being a monolith. Centuries of whisky-making has built a broad repertoire of flavors and styles that can only be found in Japan. Made from malt, corn, rice, and more, these spirits are distilled in a variety of still and styles offering enthusiasts a lot to discover.

Take a look around a diverse landscape of Japanese whisky with these picks from our staff.

Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky $64.99

Firstly, the “Coffey” in this whisky refers to the Coffey column still used for distillation—this doesn’t contain any “coffee grains” and does NOT taste like coffee. Second, while most Japanese whiskies that we get in the states are a whole lot like Scotch, this grain whisky made with corn is really more like bourbon—and it is frickin’ delicious. – Josh Mizrahi, Wine & Spirits Consultant

Ohishi Astor Sherry Cask Japanese Whisky $69.96

Don’t miss this single-cask rice whisky from one of Japan’s oldest distillers. Uniquely delicate in texture and body, the palate is loaded with pure sherry flavors, including marzipan, toasted nuts, baking chocolate, dried fruits, and burnt citrus. This whisky is topped with floral notes and oak spices that lift up out of the glass. – Jon Miner, Wine & Spirits Consultant

Suntory Toki Blended Whisky $41.96

This delightfully smooth whisky weaves together heritage and innovation in its blend of whiskies from the Hakushu, Yamazaki, and Chita distilleries. Aromas of grapefruit, green apple, and vanilla provide a subtle sweetness, while flavors of white pepper and ginger result in a spicy finish. – Keyana Shaw, Wine & Spirits Consultant

Fukano Astor Single Cask Japanese Whisky $74.96

Yes, Fukano whisky is distilled from rice, but bourbon lovers, this has your name all over it! Light in body with loads of coconut and banana and a soft, spicy finish make this an ideal spirit for spring and summer sipping. Don’t miss out—this bottling comes from a single cask. – Bambi Ray, Sales Manager

Mars Shinshu Iwai Tradition Whisky $54.99

This family-owned distillery based in Nagano is poised to be one of the most important in Japan and the world at large. This whisky currently provides the best bang-for-your-buck in a category where finding a good deal is increasingly difficult. – Nima Ansari-Bahmani, Spirits Buyer

Yamazaki 12 Yr. Single Malt Japanese Whisky $149.96

This is one of the bottles that launched Japanese whisky on the world stage, making it one of the most sought after drinks categories. Yamazaki 12 remains today, a classic. – Nima Ansari-Bahmani, Spirits Buyer