Saturday, April 26, 2008

Japanese Whisky Voted Best In The World!

Hang your head down low, Scotland.

For many years, Japanese whisky was something of a joke for serious fans. No more.

Yoichi 20 years old, which has its main distillery on the northern island of Hokkaido just became the the first whisky made outside Scotland to win the coveted single malt award in an international competition run by Whisky Magazine, the main industry publication.

It beat out dozens of other makers, including last year’s winner, Talisker 18 years old, from the Isle of Skye, and the judges reportedly raved about its aroma, flavor and finish.

The world's best blended whisky? That would be a Japanese brand as well, Suntory Hibiki.

The decision to give the top prize to Yoichi followed a blind tasting of more than 200 of the world’s finest varieties by a panel of 16 of the world’s leading whisky experts.

The judges said Japanese distillers had succeeded in producing top Scotch thanks to the variable climate in Japan, which assists maturation and creates a purer whisky with a heightened aroma.

Traditional distilling apparatus such as coal-fired pot stills, used widely in Japan but rarely seen in Scotland, was also praised for producing a superior dram.

“Japanese whiskies performed magnificently and they are really starting to make waves,” said Rob Allanson, editor of Whisky Magazine.

Nikka, the company that produces Yoichi, and Suntory, the biggest spirits company in Japan, are making inroads into the British whisky market.

Tetsuji Hisamitsu, chief blender at the Yoichi distillery, said he was “very moved” by the award.

I've never had the 20 year old, but having tried the 12 year old (which compared favorably with the equivalent Talisker and Laphroaig), I imagine it must be quite something.

At about $300 (£150 or ¥30,000)per bottle, it damn well had better be!

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