10 Best Japanese Whiskies
Find about some of the best Japanese whiskies you can buy online
When you think about Whisky, what countries come to mind? Most people will think about Scotch whisky and Bourbon from the US. However, if you are a whisky enthusiast, you may know that Japanese whisky is pretty famous as well.
Although not having a long history compared to more recognized whiskies, Japanese Whisky does offer a good quality that the whisky community has internationally recognized.
In this article, I will introduce to you our picks for the 10 best Japanese whiskies you can buy online. I’ll also be providing my personal opinions about these whiskies. I hope it serves as a reference.
*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.
Why should you check out Japanese Whisky?
The history behind Japanese whisky is relatively new compared to that of more recognized whisky. Manufacturing methods and processes were brought from Scotland to make the first Japanese Whisky. Because of this, it is said that Japanese whisky has many similarities to Scotch whisky.
Japanese Whisky tends to be soft, subtle, and dry. This makes it perfect for accompanying a meal. This has made it popular among connoisseurs around the world so much so that it is now considered to be one of the 5 best whisky-producing countries in the world along with Ireland, Scotland, The US, and Canada.
From here, I’m going to introduce 10 of the best Japanese whiskies you can purchase online, from Single malt whisky to Blended whisky and Grain whisky. I hope you can find one that matches your taste.
1. Suntory Whiskey Rectangular Bottle
The first Japanese whisky on our list is Suntory Whiskey Rectangular Bottle (サントリー 角瓶). Known in Japan as simply “Kaku”, this is one of the most well-known blended whisky brands in Japan.
It took over a decade to refine the taste, and it has been one of the best-selling Japanese whisky for over 70 years.
It is rich and dry with a sweet scent which makes it good for making a highball. If you go to a restaurant or Izakaya in Japan, you might find a “Kaku Highball” which is made from this whisky.
2. Black Nikka Clear Whisky
Next on this list, we have Black Nikka Clear Whisky (アサヒビール ブラックニッカ). This is also one of the most popular choices, especially for whisky beginners.
This whisky is made by blending non-peat malt, which makes it easy to drink for those who are just starting their journey into the world of whisky. It can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks, and even as a highball. Its accessible price and the relatively low alcohol concentration (37%) are also reasons that make this a good entry-class whiskey.
3. Koshu Manzaki Whiskey The Premium Bottle Whiskey
Another Japanese blended whisky that is good as an entry-level whisky is Koshu Manzaki Whiskey The Premium Bottle Whiskey (富永貿易 甲州).
This whisky is made in Yamanashi prefecture, and its rich and clear taste with pleasant fragrance is achieved because it uses fresh water that comes from Mt. Fuji.
4. Mars Mortage Echiu Malt Selection Whiskey
Mars Mortage Echiu Malt Selection Whiskey (本坊酒造 マルス 越百) is the last Japanese blended whisky on our list. It is made by the company Hombo Shuzo and the whiskey is made in Nagano prefecture.
The brewery is located surrounded by the central alps of Nagano, which creates an ideal climate for whisky-making. This blended whisky, in particular, is made by combining malts with different properties, creating a pleasant taste with depth and complexity.
Its elegant black label is recognizable among whisky enthusiasts in Japan.
*Writer’s Opinion: These first four whiskies are meant to be products that appeal to all preferences. You can enjoy them either straight or mix them with club soda, coke, or ginger ale. I would say Black Nikka has the most subtle notes of the three, while Koshu has a slight bitterness that lingers for a while. The rectangular bottle has a sweet fragrance. Echiu is the most distinct one out of the four due to its smokiness.
5. Suntory Yamazaki Single Malt Whiskey
From here, I’m going to introduce to you some of the best single malt whisky brands in Japan. The first one is Suntory Yamazaki Single Malt Whiskey (サントリー 山崎). This is arguably one of the most internationally recognized Japanese single malt whisky.
This whisky is characterized by its soft, fruity, glamorous scent and sweet and smooth taste. It is also characterized by its bright reddish tone that gives it a unique touch.
Although it is not a cheap product, it is worth its price. It serves as a good present for someone who loves whisky.
6. Asahi Yoichi Single Malt Whiskey
Japanese Single Malt Whiskey (アサヒビール 余市) is the Second single malt whisky on this list. This whisky is made by the famous beverage company, Asahi, and it is produced in the far northern lands of Hokkaido.
In comparison with the previous whisky, it has a much more accessible price tag, making it good for people who like enjoying whisky on a more regular basis.
The location of production has similar characteristics to that of where Scotch whisky is produced. And its taste is characterized by its sweetness with a fruity scent.
7. Single Malt Miyagikyo
Next on our list is Single Malt Miyagikyo (シングルモルト 宮城峡). This is the last single malt whisky on our list.
This whisky is produced in a mountainy area where two rivers meet in Miyagi prefecture. This whisky is characterized by its subtle scent and soft, fruity taste that nicely lingers for a while.
It is easy to drink, making it a good introduction to single malt whisky for those who are still beginners on the whisky journey.
*Writer’s Opinion: As opposed to the blended whiskies on the list, the following three single malt whiskies have clearer differences. Yamazaki has a complexity in its taste that is unique in its kind. Yoichi, as I mentioned has a more similar taste to Scotch whisky. And Miyagikyo has a pronounced sweetness in the beginning with a slight bitterness coming afterward.
8. Suntory Whiskey, Chita
And now from here on, I will share with you 3 of the best Japanese grain whisky brands. The first one is Suntory Whiskey, Chita (サントリー 知多).
Chita Distillery uses a continuous distiller to refine its delicate and subtle taste, which is meant to represent the taste of a light breeze. This makes it a good whisky to drink alongside Japanese cuisine which also tends to have a delicate taste.
It is a relatively low-cost whisky which makes it good for those who like enjoying whisky regularly. Maybe alongside dinner.
9. Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
Next on our list is Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky (アサヒビール ニッカ カフェ グレーン). This is a grain whisky product made by Asahi. It uses a Coffey still for continuous distillation.
A woody, vanilla scent mixed with a little bit of chocolate and custard cream. This is accompanied by a sweet and soft texture that doesn’t linger for long in your mouth. This complexity is achieved by using this manufacturing process.
It has a relatively high price, so it is a whisky to be enjoyed on special occasions. It works as a present as well.
10. KIRIN Single Grain Whiskey, Fuji Whiskey
And lastly, on our list, is KIRIN Single Grain Whiskey, Fuji Whiskey (キリン 富士). This Japanese whisky is produced in Shizuoka prefecture by the company Kirin. It is the winner of the International Spirit Challenge (ISC) in the year 2020.
It has a sweet, mature barrel fragrance with a rich, fruity taste that is achieved by mixing 3 types of grain (Canadian type, Burbon type, and Scotch type). It is best enjoyed by drinking it straight, but it also can be well enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or prepared as a highball.
Also, there is a nice detail in the bottle: if you look closely at the bottom, you can see Mt. Fuji.
*Writer’s Opinion: These last three grain whiskies also are pretty different from one another. Chita has the most delicate and subtle notes which are well-known features of grain whiskies. On the other hand, the Nikka Coffey Grain whisky has a distinctive fragrance and sweetness that is uncharacteristic for grain whiskies in a good way. And Fuji Whiskey is rich in taste with a little touch of fruitiness.
I hope this article was helpful to you!
As you can see, Japanese whisky is made by many different companies and each company has its own preferences when it comes to preparing its product.
Hopefully, you were able to find a brand that makes whiskey that suits your preferences.
▽How about making Highball with those quality whiskeys or trying reasonable canned highballs?▽
Here are best alcoholic drinks in Japan.