Men’s Style‘s drinks guy Mike Bennie offers three suggestions if you want to familiarise yourself with the increasingly popular world of Japanese whiskies.
White Oak Distillery ‘No Age Statement’ Akashi Single Malt ($120, 500ml)
White Oak Distillery is arguably Japan’s first whisky producer, founded in 1919. This is a blend of various casks and matured malts offering a fragrance of clove, light caramel and faint smoke. The taste is smooth but with gentle bitterness, some aniseed and delicate molasses. Production is small, and the aroma, flavour and texture is appropriately exquisite.
Hibiki 12 Years Old Whisky ($120, 700ml)
Hibiki is the upper end of Suntory’s range and produced from a blending of Hakashu and Yamazaki single malts. The rare oak used in Hibiki whisky gives this 12 Years Old release a distinct fruitiness and floral character. The complex whisky rolls elegantly around the palate with fruit and honey richness, tempered with clove-cinnamon spice character.
Nikka From The Barrel Whisky ($70, 500ml)
Curiously named whisky, but an ‘entry level’ of sorts for the Nikka distillery. This is a blend of grain and malt whiskies given more time in barrel once combined. The whisky is powerful in aroma, rich in molasses and smoke with a dusting of exotic spice. Warm, mouth-filling and layered in flavour, it finishes with bitter dark chocolate and tobacco characters.