Japanese whisky has gained tremendous popularity over the past few years. With varieties of new flavors and no-age-statement whiskies, many brands are offering some of the most sought-after Japanese blends for an impressive price tag.
Insatiable whiskey demand has compelled a number of profoundly aged alcoholic blends to discontinue, yet a few brands excel with reasonably aged and well-priced whiskies. After the best whiskies to try, here are the finest Japanese brands presenting marvelous flavors and spicy notes.
Suntory Yamazaki 12-year-old Single Malt Whiskey
Yamazaki Whisky is Suntory’s flagship single malt whisky in pure gold color. This pricey bottle comes infused with lovely aromas of peach, pineapple, grapefruit, clove, candied orange, vanilla, and Japanese oak Mizunara. It delights the palate with sweet flavors of buttered toast, citrus, spice, coconut and melon. This sipping whisky offers a delicate yet profound drinking experience. It is not only the No. 1 single malt whisky in Japan, but is also favored in over 35 countries. Buy: $164 (¥18,000)
Ichiro’s Malt and Grain Whisky
One of the most sought-after bottles, Ichiro’s Malt and Grain Whisky is a blend of whiskies from the US, Ireland, Scotland and Canada, with Ichiro’s own Japanese-made spirit. This impeccable blend contains fruity notes of peach, dried apricot, sweet butterscotch and citrus zest fragrances. Its luscious hints of vanilla and toffee are followed by spicy twist of gingerbread, black pepper and fresh-cut hay. Buy: $110 (¥12,100)
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
Named after Aeneas Coffey, this original single grain whisky is made mostly from corn, as opposed to barley used in single malts, in a Coffey still. It is matured in old casks – re-filled, remade and re-charred casks – made from American oak, to provide the sweet and mellow flavors of the still. It contains a creamy texture with the sweetness of caramel, toffee and vanilla, which is a winner for bourbon fans. Buy: $80 (¥8,800)
Ohishi Single Sherry Cask Whisky
Distilled and bottled at Ohishi Distillery in Japan using malted and unmalted rice, Ohishi Single Sherry Cask Whisky is a rich, soft and balanced blend. This complex spirit is given extreme care in its maturation process. It is aged for an undisclosed time period in sherry casks, making an opulent and fruity dram with notes of sherry, cocoa, dark fruit, ash and spice. Its grainy sweetness and spicy flavors are quite popular among whisky enthusiasts. Buy: $72 (¥7,900)
Mars Iwai 45 Whisky
This reasonably priced blend is a luscious, bourbon-like whisky. It is made with 75 percent corn and 25 percent malted barley, giving it honeyed vanilla and butterscotch flavor akin to bourbon. Mars Iwai 45 Whisky is aged in ex-bourbon casks, lending it a suave and mellow sipping quality. It also has notes of baked apples and strawberry, along with flavors of ripe pears, quince, chocolate and toffee. Buy: $44 (¥4,840)