About World Whiskies

World whiskies are whiskies produced outside the traditional regions of Scotland, Ireland, and North America. They generally follow the Scottish tradition, with malt whiskies being double distilled in pot stills and grain whiskies in column stills. Most are single malt bottlings, however more blends and single grain expressions are appearing on the market. Asian whiskies are particularly noteworthy in the world of world whiskies.

Japanese Whisky
Japanese Malt Whisky is produced in pot stills from lightly peated barley malt. Standard Japanese Whisky is a blend of malt whiskey (Japanese or Scotch) and domestically produced grain whiskey. The whisky distilleries of Japan are scattered throughout Honshu and Hokkaido, the two main northern islands of Japan, with the malt whisky distilleries being located for the most part in mountainous regions where there are good water supplies.

The modern Japanese whisky industry can trace its beginnings back to one man, Masataka Taketsura. The son of a sake brewer, Taketsura went to Scotland in 1918 and spent two years studying chemistry at Glasgow University and working at a Scotch whisky distillery in the Highland village of Rothes. He returned to Japan in 1920 with a Scottish bride and a determination to change the Japanese distilling industry.

The Japanese were then, as they are now, major consumers of Scotch whisky. Locally produced spirits, however, were limited to the fiery sorghum or sweet potato-based shochu, and a handful of dubious "whiskies" that were little more than neutral spirits colored with caramel. Taketsura convinced the owners of what became the Suntory Company to begin production of barley malt and grain whiskies based on the Scottish model. These whiskies, some of which are made from imported peat-smoked Scottish malt, became very successful in the Japanese market. Other distilleries soon followed Suntory’s lead, and these grain-based whiskies, based on single malt and blended Scotch whisky models (and later Bourbon whiskey) soon came to dominate the Japanese market.

Modern Japanese distillers (including the Nikka Whisky Distillery, which was founded by Taketsura in 1934) have followed this trend and nowadays produce and market a full range of malt and blended whiskies.

New Zealand Whisky
New Zealand Single Malt Whisky is pot-distilled malt whisky. New Zealand Blended Whisky is a mix of domestic malt and grain whiskies. New Zealand malt and grain whiskies are double distilled in pot stills. New Zealand currently only has one operating whisky distillery in Dunedin on the South Island.

Indian Whisky
India produces a large amount of “whisky” made from various barley and non-barley ingredients. While many of the brands would not be considered “export quality” or even technically whisky, there is a trend leaning toward the production of higher quality brands geared to compete in both domestic and export markets. Because of the high demand for true Scotch whisky in India, a leading Indian corporation has recently purchased Scotch distilleries abroad to satisfy this remarkable demand.

Taiwanese Whisky
Remarkably constructed in only 9 months in 2015, the Kavalan distillery is Taiwan's first whisky distillery. Despite their relative youth, the malt whiskies made at Kavalan are amazingly flavorful, complex, world-class spirits—modeled after Scottish single malts—that are a product of ingenuity, Scottish tradition and ingredients, and the unique tropical Taiwanese climate that accelerates the aging process.

Top Picks for World Whiskies

Kavalan Solist Oloroso Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
97 points
$179.99
Dark amber color. Aromas of black tea with cream and honey, geranium, caramel mocha latte, peanut brittle, cinnamon crumble, and autumn leaves with a round, lively, fruity medium-full body and a warming, complex, long salted raisins, saffron, caramelized apricot, chocolate taffy, and crispy creme brulee finish. A big, concentrated whisky to drench the palate in richness.
Awards: 2018 Best Taiwanese Whisky
97 points $179.99
Kavalan Solist Moscatel Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
96 points
$599.99
Dark amber color. Aromas of charred raisins, marcona almonds, dried olives, butterscotch, and clove cigarettes with a round, lively, fruity full body and a peppery, layered, long salted orange liqueur, polished mahogany, chocolate covered cherries, sandalwood, marinated red pepper, and spiced cider finish. A richly flavored and boldly textured whiskey for toasts and celebrations.
96 points $599.99
Kavalan Solist Port Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
95 points
$299.99
Dark amber color. Attractive aromas and flavors of cherry cola, fine cigars, banana candy, black tea, roasted almond and cashews, and pistachio confection with a round, racy, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a hot, medium-length molasses and carob finish. A very bright expression from Taiwan with plenty of tingle.
95 points $299.99
Kavalan Solist Fino Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
95 points
$469.99
Amber color. Oaky aromas of vanilla yogurt coated nuts, antique furniture, lemon and almond oils, char-grilled white corn, and poppyseed with a slightly chewy, vibrant, dryish medium-to-full body and a hot, appealing, long salted sourdough bread, buttercream, and plums in syrup finish. A dry and leathery Taiwanese whiskey for exotic cigar pairings.
95 points $469.99
Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey
95 points
$69.99
Dusty gold color. Creamy, fruity aromas and flavors of coconut cream pie, dried tropical fruits, pink peppercorns, and pencil shavings with a silky, vibrant, fruity light-to-medium body and a complex, medium-long creme Anglaise, delicate spice, sarsaparilla, and white cigar ash finish. A creamy, inviting whisky that is sure to please.
95 points $69.99
King Car Conductor Single Malt Whisky
94 points
$119.99
Golden amber color. Aromas of Madeira cake, dried fig, sweet Thai chile sauce, date bar, granny smith apple, and pie crusts with a satiny, lively, fruity light-to-medium body and a peppery, distinctive, long grilled pineapple coulis, tropical fruit tart, passionfruit cordial, oat cakes, and roasted almonds and cashews finish. A bright, shining whisky with exceptional balance and singing tropical flavors.
94 points $119.99
Kavalan Solist Amontillado Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
94 points
$599.99
Copper color. Aromas and flavors of chocolate dipped dried figs, baked peach, tapenade topped grilled brioche, sesame oil, cedar, and soy glazed walnut with a satiny, vibrant, fruity full body and a peppery, layered, medium-long caramelized tropical fruits, molasses, Thai chiles, and sea salt finish. A powerful Taiwanese whisky with a salty-rich appeal and endless umami flavors.
94 points $599.99
Kavalan Solist Pedro Ximénez Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
94 points
$699.99
Bright mahogany color. Aromas of molasses, almond biscotti, leather, olives, tamari, toasted coconut, and red bean confection with a slightly chewy, crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, interesting, medium-long chocolate truffle, cloud berry, star anise, carob, raisins, and dried figs finish. A chewy, sherry-influenced tropical whiskey that will be very attractive to rum drinkers.
94 points $699.99
Nikka Yoichi Single Malt Whisky
94 points
$79.99
Clear gold color. Aromas of green pear and coriander, cherry blossom, Jamon Iberico and melon skewer, and sea spray with a velvety, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a peppery, very complex, long toasted peanuts with coconut sugar, Carr’s wheat crackers, chrysanthemum tea, honeyed-smoked turkey, creme de cassis, ginger, sweet potato pie, and lemon balm and white pepper finish. A lovely and refined Japanese whiskey that displays its enormous character with poised restraint.
94 points $79.99
Kavalan Sherry Oak Single Malt Whisky
94 points
$149.99
Brilliant mahogany color. Aromas and flavors of stewed black fruits, ground peanuts, Swiss cheese, and pancake syrup with a lightly tannic, crisp, fruity sweet full body and a searing, thought-provoking, long chocolate covered caramel and peanut butter, molasses, candied peanuts, and dried pineapple finish. A super-rich and full bodied whiskey that will play well in high-end cocktails.
94 points $149.99