The early years of Japanese Single Malt production were dominated by a desire to produce a distillate that owed a great deal to Scotland in both the techniques used and final flavour profiles desired by its distillers. This is hardly surprising given that Masataka Taketsuru, the godfather of Japanese Whisky, learnt the art of Whisky distillation during a long trip to Scotland intended for just such an education in 1918. In recent years there has been more emphasis placed on highlighting Japanese Single Malt’s individuality as a category and we have seen greater experimentation and innovation including greater use of the native Japanese Mizunara oak.
Japanese Whisky has developed a reputation for extremely high quality throughout the world, having won great praise from respected reviewers and an impressive haul of prestigious awards, including several gold medals from the well-respected Malt Maniacs. While many distilleries have gathered deserved recognition, it is Japan’s smallest distillery Karuizawa with its frequently sherried, distinctively heavy character that has made perhaps the greatest impression upon whisky lovers. Bottlings of Karuizawa from the late 60s and 70s are regarded as some of finest whiskies in the world and both sell out and accumulate resale value at impressive speed.