When it comes to Japanese whisky, all sorts of flavors are available. The majority of whiskies made in Japan are however similar to Scotch in taste and manufacturing methods while it has then been modified to make more suitable to Japanese tastes.
A few decades ago, many Japanese people liked whisky with a vanilla taste, today however, young people tend to prefer light and refreshing whiskies like Suntory’s Chita. This is especially true for people in their early 20s who overwhelmingly seem to order Chita Highballs. For people over 30 whisky aged in sherry casks is more popular. Of course quality Scotch like Laphroaig or Ardbeg also continue to be popular with them. Then there are older people who have learned to appreciate the best whiskies from Scotland and Japan and other countries.
In my view one of the reasons Japanese whiskies are now catching the attention of the world is that the taste of Japanese whisky drinkers has been evolving through the decades, and by now, both Suntory and Nikka make world class whisky which are in many ways similar to Scotch.
One of the things that influenced the palate of Japanese whisky drinkers were the many Ji-Whiskies available in Japan. It was Ji-whisky that enabled Japanese drinkers to try out many different flavors. Ji-whiskies were especially popular in the 1970s and the 1980s when there was a real boom in that business. At that time, whiskies with alcohol levels over 43% carried a special tax and were therefore considered a luxury item. Whiskies with alcohol levels below 39% were on the other hand cheap. Because of this many people were buying cheap whiskies with lower alcohol content. For example Nikka Northland, which I introduced in a previous post had an alcohol content of 39%. This is the reason why many Japanese whisky have a relatively low alcohol percentage.
Most of the unique Ji-whiskies from that time have gone out of fashion and are therefore no longer sold. However, a few are still sold, one of them is quite an interesting whisky named Peak Whisky. Peak whisky is made by Gyokusendo Breweries in Gifu and has not changed at all since it was marketed a few decades ago. Its taste really is unique as there is no trance of the scent from the cask, the peat or anything of the sort, it does however have a strong wheat scent. Those who like Japanese food or sake will recognize that this whisky really does have a peculiar Japanese tastji21e.
If you like to try Peak whisky, contact dekantā and have us order one for you, then, for cocktail, I recommend that you try what we bartenders call Japanese Gimlet: pour 30ml of gin, 15 ml of sugar syrup, 5 ml of lime juice and 10 ml of Peak Whisky. And enjoy!