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 Fino Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
97 points
A contemplative and complex sipper that represents why these Whiskies deserve to be mentioned as some of the finest in the world; the aromas continue to develop and show balance and elegance at every turn.
Kavalan Solist Amontillado Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
96 points
This just smells like a cask of Amontillado distilled down; perhaps polarizing but so tasty and makes one crave some Jamon Iberico and almonds.
Kavalan Solist Manzanilla Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
96 points
Bold and savory, loaded with umami and yet has an under current of salted red fruit; a massive Whisky that is splendid and toothsome.
Shin 10 Year Old Mizunara Oak-Finished Japanese Malt Whisky
96 points
A serious and contemplative Whisky that is an exceptional sipper revealing layer upon layer of sweet and spicy Mizinura complexity when given proper time for aeration.
Bimber Single Malt London Whisky Batch 3
96 points
A big and beautiful Whisky with a savory nose and fresh fruit on the palate.
Awards: 2022 Best English Whisky
Kavalan Distillery Reserve Madeira Cask Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
95 points
Dark and savory with bold dried fruits and for fans of old rancio driven Single Malts and Brandies.
Bhakta Spirits Indian Single Malt Whisky
95 points
Smoky and savory up front with underlying fruit and grain sweetness, this is complex and delicious while holding the ABV extraordinarily well; a contemplative Whisky to sit with and pair with cigars.
Kavalan Solist Brandy Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
95 points
Intensely fruity with ample spices; needs just a few drops of water to soften and open up the nose.
Kavalan Solist Oloroso Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
95 points
Bold, rich, and unforgettable; a powerhouse of a Whisky that is not for everyone but deftly captures the hearts and minds of sherry bomb Whisky lovers.
Kavalan Solist PX Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
95 points
Dark and almost burnt with a savory umami that is balanced with rich fruit sweetness; a very contemplative slow sipper.