Summer Spirits: Hamish's Favourite Japanese Whiskies
Yamazaki 12 Year Old Suntory 100th Anniversary Release
The Yamazaki 12 Year Old is fabled for its fresh and distinctive flavour, making it not only the top-selling single malt whisky in Japan but also highly regarded by whisky aficionados worldwide. This here one I brought back from my trip to Yamazaki, bottled to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Presented with a new label celebrating the distillery's historic founding a century ago, the whisky honours Suntory's commitment to superb quality and innovation. You can expect flavours of Mizanara oak (Yamazaki's signature), coconut, butter and cranberries. Cheers to a century of excellence!
Nikka Miyagikyo Aromatic Yeast
From the second powerhouse in the Japanese whisky world, Nikka whisky present this special expression from their softer second distillery, Miyagikyo. It has been uniquely made with aromatic yeasts to encourage more fruity flavours. A delightfully floral whisky, with flavours of fresh croissants, pear, green foliage, heather honey and a finish full of cherry blossom.
Karuizawa 19 Year Old That Boutique-y Whisky Company Batch 3
This one is worth all those extra zeros! That Boutique-y Whisky Company have got their hands on a barrel of some of the most sought-after liquid in the world. Karuizawa is a legendary closed distillery that was perched high up in misty mountains, on the slopes of a volcano with an perfectly pure water source and a climate ideal for high-alcohol content maturation. The label of this bottling depicts Atom Brands' Toby Cutler escaping some henchmen in the original Karuizawa distillery as someone watches on from a safe distance. The taste is like nothing else: a salty manzanilla tang with more earthy qualities; gamey flavours with tannins, ginger, dark chocolate and apple crumbs; sherried flavours of Christmas cake, blood orange and Maraschino cherries.
Hatozaki Pure Malt
Named after the oldest stone lighthouse in Japan, Hatozaki Pure Malt Japanese Whisky is hails from Kaikyo distillery. The liquid is a small batch vatting of 100% malt whiskies which have been aged in three casks - bourbon casks, imported sherry casks and native Mizunara oak barrels. Warming and welcoming, the sweet taste of malted cereals and dried fruit are lifted by a light smoke and an aromatic honey finish on the palate.
Nikka Tailored is a blended whiskey that uses malt whisky from its two different distilleries: the smoky Yoichi and fruity-floral Miyagikyo, alongside it's Coffey Still grain from Miyagikyo. A brilliant balance between soft and bitter fruits, this expression showcases the Nikka team's flair for blending. You can expect flavours of vanilla, hazelnut, raisin and sweet honey, with a lightly toasted finish of bitter fruits and vanilla bean.
Suntory Whisky Toki
Taking its name from the Japanese for 'time', Toki is a blended whisky from Suntory that reverses traditional hierarchy of grain and malt whiskies to create an innovative whisky with a fresh character. Chief blender Shinki Fukuyo highlights the quality of Chita grain whisky as not just a base, but on equal standing to the Hakushu malt whisky. The select Yamazaki malt adds further depth and complexity to this vivid blend. The final liquid holds flavours of fresh grape and zesty grapefruit with a touch of cooling mint and thyme.
The first single grain release from Suntory, completing the single distillery trio (along with Hakushu and Yamazaki). Aged in wine and Spanish oak casks in addition to American White oak casks for a milder, but complex flavour. The sweet grain whisky is exquisitely balanced and smooth - Fukuyo describes it as “the serenity of Japanese whisky.”- with flavours of deep honey, spiced oak and hints of mint.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony
A blended whisky from Suntory that brings to life the harmony of Japanese nature and craftmanship, Hibiki is a delicate and well-balanced blend of more than 10 malt and grain whiskies that are aged in a variety of cask types. It's garnered awards from all around the world for its spectacular flavour, as well a legions of dedicated fans, including Gold at the International Spirits Challenge 2022. The palate opens with fruity sweetness, then to a chilli-pepper spice, and developing into a charred oak aftertaste.
Mars Malted Cosmo
Mars Maltage Cosmo is a blended malt created between little-known Japanese distillery, Shinshu, and undisclosed Scottish distilleries - mysterious! The result is an intriguing and balanced dram, with flavours of chocolate, citrus, oak and stone fruit. It's a great one for a Penicillin cocktail, alongside ginger liqueur, lemon juice and honey.
Finally, another favourite from Nikka whisky: Yoichi. It was founder Masataka Taketsuru's first distillery, which he modelled on the peaty & smoky Scottish expressions popular during his time there. He installed a traditional coal-fired pot still, which imbues toasty burnt flavours on the whisky. The Japanese influence is clear in the crisp and fresh apple and melon flavours, with Scottish peat smoke throughout the palate.
Explore our full range of Japanese whiskies here.