Every whisky enthusiast will tell you that Japanese whiskies are smooth, floral, and honey-flavoured—most importantly, deserving of a place in your home bar collection!
Japanese whiskies are crafted in the tradition of Scottish whiskies. In terms of style, they’re in between Lowland and Speyside. Japanese whisky is double distilled before being aged in wood barrels. When compared to sweeter American bourbons and ryes, the flavours are drier and smokier.
The Japanese whisky’s industry was founded by Masataka Taketsuru and Shinjiro Torii. Today, Japan is the world’s third-largest producer behind Scotland and the US.
Shinjiro Torii started Suntory and built Japan’s first distillery in Yamazaki in 1923. He was also dubbed the “father of Japanese whisky.” Masataka Taketsuru was his apprentice, who later went on to start the Nikka distillery located in Hokkaido.
Japanese whisky, like Scotch whisky, is spelled without the additional “e” found in American or Irish whiskey. This isn’t the only thing Japanese and Scotch whisky have in common. Japanese whisky is heavily reliant on malted barley, which is frequently imported from Scotland.
Now, let’s get right into the Japanese whiskies under $100 for your home bar! They’re all under $100 at the moment, but prices fluctuate as the Japanese whisky market tries to meet up with demand.
Nikka Whiskey From the Barrel is a very popular Japanese whisky. At a whopping 51.4 percent ABV, you’re getting a strong whisky that many enjoy.
The mix is comprised of grain and single malt whiskies from Nikka’s Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries. As is customary with Japanese blends, the distillates were matured in a number of different barrels, including Bourbon barrels, Sherry barrels, and various refill hogsheads. And this is apparent in the colour of the whisky, which is orange-brown. It has floral, oak, and spice notes on the nose. It tastes like winter spice and toffee, with a hint of caramel and vanilla. Overall, this award-winning whisky is an excellent introduction to Japanese whisky.
Black Nikka Special Blended Whisky is one of the most well-known whiskies in Japan, and it has been a mainstay of the country’s whisky scene for more than half a century. For people who are not accustomed to the powerful flavour of whisky, this is actually easy drinking. On the nose, it has notes of vanilla, caramel and oak. A lively, well-balanced and smooth whisky that offers a decent mix of sweet and spicy notes.
Suntory Toki Whisky, the latest offering from Suntory is a blend of Chita, Hakushu and Yamazaki American oak and Yamazaki Spanish malt. Honey, green apple and a hint of peppermint are present on the nose. Herbs, almonds, and a significant amount of vanilla oak wood can also be found. The finish is mildly spicy, with pepper and ginger scents lingering in the aftertaste. Suntory Toki Whisky is light and refreshing, and it works really well for a highball.