In recent years, there has been a steady rise in “fake” Japanese whiskies which are, at their core, imported whisky from abroad which is bottled in Japan and labelled as Japanese. While some respectable producers properly label such expressions as world blended expressions, most deceive drinkers. While we strive to provide all expressions to be released from Japan, here at dekanta, we do our best to properly categorize all whiskies and offer transparency to those who aren’t within the country and therefore may have a hard time telling the “fraudulent” expressions apart.
While the Japanese whisky scene is still very much the “Wild West” when it comes to laws and regulations, Japan’s wine industry has recently stepped up to protect domestic varieties and add to the integrity of the industry. Next week, on October 30th, a new law will go into place, in an effort to protect the thriving category of Japanese wine.
Japanese Wine Law
Wine made in Japan is booming, it only takes a look at our colourful cellar to see – The category has countless expressions, many of which are doing their best to use grapes grown domestically. Most of these grapes are known varieties, while some have been bred together to create Japanese varieties, better suited to Japan’s climate.
Like the country’s whisky, great wineries have started bringing in awards. Suntory, who leads the country’s whisky category, also shines in Japanese wine. They even bring their expertise in Mizunara Japanese oak usage into their wine. This has led to a growth in demand, and as demand and production grow, Japan’s National Tax Agency is putting laws down to protect the category. If broken, fines will incur and, in the worst case scenario, wineries may lose their wine-making license. Under the new laws, Japanese wine will be broken down into several categories:
- Imported wine, which is imported and bottled in Japan.
- Domestic wine, which will both list the countries where the grapes originated from and also state if any percentage used in the wine is foreign, like in the case of Bordeaux blends or others.
- Japanese Wine, which is wine produced in Japan with only Japanese grapes.
These new regulations are huge for the category, as only around 4% of wine in Japan falls under the category of Japanese Wine, which means that prices are most likely to rise far above the other 2 categories.
Sadly, for Japanese whisky, the rules will take much longer to change. Hopefully, these new laws bring growth and further success for the Japanese wine category, which may help bring change to spirits made in Japan too. Fingers crossed!