Is Japanese whiskey the best in the world?
Probably yes. Lately, they are receiving more awards, than their teacher Scotch. Of course, everything is a preference for the taste. If you ask me, probably yes. I like their approach and overall appearance of this golden drink. Just read the reasons, and you will see what I am talking about. However, to be honest, I do find more pleasant whiskeys from Japan, but I barely touched the offer from Scotland and Ireland. For 100% sure answer, ask me again in 25 years if my livers will survive. Let’s check why is Japanese whiskey the best!
Is it whisky or whiskey?
This might be a huge debate, but let just say both are proper ways to spell it. Whisky comes from Scottish, while whiskey with an additional e comes from Ireland. A difference in the spelling comes from the translations of the word from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic forms. Well, Irish people migrated more to America, so whiskey is preferred word in the US and Canada as well.
8 reasons why is Japanese whiskey the best in the world
In the previous post, you read about Shinjiro Torii and how he accomplished his lifetime dream of making one of the best whiskeys in the world. Now it’s time to point out the more psychological and custom related aspects which are equally important in making this outstanding product. They determined the attitude that pushed men like Shinjiro Torii and his stepson Keizo Saji to continue the quest for a method that leads to making the best Japanese whiskey.
1. Jing Jang
Japanese whiskies are different than the Scottish and American ones. Scottish whiskeys can be heavy-handed, American ones are robust with their caramel finish, but the Japanese are pure and refined. The focus on balance and harmony based on the YIN and YANG principle is why you will find more blended Whiskies than Single Malts in Japan.
Unlike the standard practice in the West, Japanese distilleries do not share their stocks of whiskey and trade casks between each other. Most of their blends come from their own distilleries and Suntory has one of the biggest collection of different whiskeys in the world. In this manner, they can complete their philosophy of “TSUKURIWAKE”, which is the philosophy of diversity in the making. This basically represents blending different flavors together to create the most balanced whiskey.
3. Precision and detail
There is another thing that is crucial in the production of whiskey: PRECISION AND DETAIL and the Japanese are renowned for those two characteristics. The Japanese pay great attention to the details and for a sophisticated product like whiskey, this is more than important. In western culture, we could stigmatize it as an obsession, but in the land of the rising sun, that is just a principle one should follow to be successful. While we are talking about success, there is another behavior that helps in whiskey production…
The Japanese simply can’t “lose their face”. If they have a goal, they will achieve it or die trying. After achieving that goal (for example, receiving the award for the best whiskey in the world) and resting on one’s laurels is not an option.
This is a principle that is behind the approach regarding small-step improvement. The idea is to continuously seek improvement in order to improve efficiency and quality. If something is working that doesn’t mean that there is no room for development. To achieve that, the Suntory has even created its own yeast strain, the Suntoryeus Lactobacillus.
6. Selling starts at the package
We can’t forget some perfect Scottish whiskey that was put in an unattractive bottle right next to an awful package. Maybe it’s a personal taste but to us, presentation matters, aesthetics are important and exceptional product deserves more than a tacky exterior. For example, HIBIKI has 24-sided bottle, which represents the 24 hours in a day, the 24 seasonal divides in a year and the time in which HIBIKI is matured. The HIBIKI bottle has the label, made of handmade Echizen paper and which bears the letter HIBIKI in Japanese, written in calligraphy. That’s a solid achievement of great packaging.
In the production of outstanding whiskey, they respect tradition. At Yoichi Distillery, they still distill with direct coal fire, just like they did centuries ago. Actually, this is one of the last places where that practice is still alive. When it comes to tradition, we need to look at the origin. Here we wrote a post about the history of one very successful distillery – SUNTORY. Predisposition for tradition is…
The Japanese have a harmonious relationship with NATURE: they feel at one with it and seasonal festivals celebrate the beauty of that nature. They have a special reverence for nature and believe in nameless spirits referred to as the “eight million gods”. Being aware of nature’s importance can bring new dimensions to whiskey. The soft and pure water is the main key in production and the Suntory distillery is doing their best that it stays that way for generations to come.
The success of the Japanese whiskeys is organic and beyond doubt, they are here to stay. We hope you got a good idea of what stands behind this world-leading industry. Hopefully, you have become intrigued you will try some of the finest samples from this outstanding country. Some healthy competition is always beneficial for the market. With that being said, it is obvious that we don’t fancy one over the other, it is always nice to have more than one option to choose from. The style of Scottish and American whiskeys is different and it feels good to enjoy them on special occasions. The fact is that the good spirit is a good spirit, no matter who makes it.