Tasting room: Japanese whisky

Dave Broom

24 October 2017

Following on from his previous article on Japanese whisky, Dave Broom picks out his favourite distilleries and brands


Chichibu

Is only available in limited quantities – it’s a small distillery and a new one so is building up stock. The style is fruity/floral, calm and already elegant. Peated variants have been launched, as have single mizunara casks.
Number One Drinks, 01603 327233

Hakushu

Often overlooked, Suntory’s other single malt distillery makes a style very different to Yamazaki. If the latter is pineapple and mid-palate richness, Hakushu is green, delicate, touches of basil, pine, cucumber, melon with a thread of smoke running through it. As the age statements increase so do the smoke and exotic fruits.
43% abv, £79/70cl, BeamSuntory/Maxxium, 01786 430500

Hibiki

For me this blend from Suntory is the perfect way to begin to understand the Japanese style, because everything seems to be contained here. Harmony is luscious and rounded with berry fruits, 12yo is spicier with some tropical fruits, while the 17yo has citrus oils, cocoa, deep fruits and mizunara oak.
Hibiki Harmony: 43% abv, £59; Hibiki 12yo: 43% abv, POA; Hibiki 17yo: 43% abv, £120, BeamSuntory/Maxxium, 01786 430500

Nikka Coffey

Distilled at Miyagikyo in Coffey stills, the Grain has a corn cob sweetness alongside toffee apple. Sweet, rich and rounded. The Malt is equally rich, but drier, with more chocolate, cherry and a roasted element.
Both 45% abv, £56/70cl, Speciality Brands, 020 8838 9367

Nikka Yoichi

From Nikka’s first distillery, on Hokkaido. Peated barley (at different levels), mix of different yeasts, coal fired stills, worm tubs. Yoichi is oily and bold, but not heavy, smokey but also subtle. Currently only available as a NAS expression.
45% abv, £75/70cl, Speciality Brands, 020 8838 9367

Related articles

Spirits & Cocktails

Made in Japan: Tasting and matching Japanese whisky

Japan’s whiskies are held in high regard, but does the liquid live up to the fame? Clinton Cawood joins a panel of experts as they taste their way thr

Beer & Cider

Tasting room: five of the best Japanese beers

Adrian Tierney-Jones keeps his gaze firmly east-facing as part of Imbibe's current series on Japanese drinking, with a selection of the country's most

Spirits & Cocktails

NAS Superstars: Tasting no-age-statement whisky

Think that a scotch whisky needs an age-statement to be any good? Think again.

Spirits & Cocktails

Precision engineering: making the most of Japanese whisky

Precise, elegant and distinctively different, Japanese whiskeys are as weightlessly perfect as a finely crafted haiku.