About Japanese Spirits

About Japanese Spirits
Japan has become a major player in the single malt category; as some examples are considered among the finest in the world.

Quality malt whiskey in Japan was first produced in the 1920s; today there are several distilleries that craft products based on single malt Scotch. There are numerous styles from very light to those with a heavy peaty quality. The best examples are aged from 12 to 18 years in wood barrels.

The other main spirit in Japan is shochu, a beverage made from any number of ingredients, such as barley, rice, buckwheat or even carrots. Having a clear appearance, a shochu displays a wide range of aromas such as fig, fruit cake, paprika and even marinated mushrooms. Shochu has an alcoholic percentage ranging form 25% to 45% and is served neat, on the rocks or sometimes mixed with fruit juice.

Top Picks for Japan

Kirishima Shuzo Akane Kirishima Shochu
93 points
Clear color. Floral aromas and flavors of lilac, violet, dried apricot, candied citrus, and sweet ginger with a satiny, crisp, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, delightful, medium-length finish manifesting suggestions of rice milk and spiced cherries. A pisco-like Shochu with extroverted perfumed floral character; a great choice for cocktails and pairing with spicy foods.
Kirishima Shuzo Kuro Kirishima EX Delicious Pentagon
93 points
Clear color. Savory aromas of roasted sweet potato, toasted garlic, blackened carrot, earthy green tea, and mushroom broth with a round, vibrant, dryish medium body and a smooth, elegant, medium-long roasted bacon wrapped dates, quark, fried noodles, and soy finish. A mouthwatering, savory Shochu to complement a wide variety of meals; try in craft cocktails too.
Tenjaku Pure Malt Japanese Whisky
91 points
$70
Pale gold color. Aromas of fresh grain, banana bread with raisins, toasted walnuts, and honey-drizzled pears with a supple, crisp, dryish light-to-medium body and a smooth, interesting, medium-long melon, smoked peppercorns, pimiento, marinated mushrooms, and banana nougat finish. A shape-shifting Whisky that offers a charming and delicate nose followed by a swift and assertive rush of piquant flavor on the palate.
Tenjaku Blended Japanese Whisky
91 points
$39.99
Gold color. Aromas of raisin toast, sticky rice, gingerbread, iodine, straw, violet, and ripe melons with a satiny, vibrant, fruity light body and a peppery, charming, medium-long pears, honey, marmalade, and pink peppercorns finish. A rock solid Japanese Blended Whisky with nice balance; a good bridge for traditional Scotch Whisky drinkers.
91 points $39.99
Hibiki Harmony Blended Japanese Whisky
91 points
$64
Pale amber color. Aromas and flavors of candied raisins, toasted fruitcake, roasted pineapple, buttery pastry with honey, and walnut praline with a velvety, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a graceful, engaging, long finish revealing notes of cinnamon babka and bananas foster finish. A delicate, understated, sherry-influenced Whisky that delivers lasting complex flavor.
Kirishima Shuzo Kuro Kirishima Shochu
91 points
Clear color. Aromas and flavors of gunpowder, black lime, marinated mushrooms, miso-caramel, water chestnut, and charcoal with a satiny, soft, dry light body and a smooth, interesting, medium-length finish that presents notes of mixed melon salad, kabocha squash, and toasted sesame. A rock-solid Shochu with classic, food-friendly flavors.
Nikka From the Barrel Japanese Blended Whisky
91 points
$69.99
Dark amber color. Aromas of cinnamon pastry, pickled ginger, sourdough, honey, and raisins with a silky, crisp, fruity medium body and a tingling, compelling, medium-length crepes, dulce de leche, butter-poached pear, and toasted spice cake finish. A rich and toasty Japanese blended whisky that offers big character that will stand up in craft cocktails.
91 points $69.99
Kirishima Shuzo Kuro Kirishima Melt Shochu
89 points
Slivery straw color. Toasty aromas of cinnamon-raisin bread, lime leaf, milk toast, toasted coconut, maple creme with walnuts, and black tea with cream with a round, crisp, fruity medium body and a sleek, charming, medium-length peach pie, rocky road ice cream, and rice pudding finish. A creamy oaked Shochu that could be a very appealing after-dinner pour; try in stirred cocktails too.
Kirishima Shuzo Shiro Kirishima Shochu
89 points
Clear color. Aromas and flavors of sweet potato noodles, taro custard, jerky, kimchi, and roasted squash with a satiny, bright, dryish light-to-medium body and a seamless, medium-length finish. A delicate, starchy and food-friendly Shochu for the table.
Kirishima Shuzo Aka Kirishima Shochu
89 points
Clear color. Fruity aromas and flavors of candied lime and tangerine, cherry-sesame nougat bar, ripe melon, sweet rice, and banana confection with a satiny, crisp, fruity light-to-medium body and an effortless, breezy finish with notes of sweet yogurt. A fruity Shochu with wide appeal; try in effervescent cocktails.