You might know already that one of my favorite destinations is Japan. And if you didn’t – Now you do. The food, the aesthetics, the culture, the people – I have never been to a place where almost everything felt adorable to me!
So what do I do if a Japanese company invites me do a whisky tasting? I go there of course! To be honest, my experience with whiskey has been minimal, I didn’t even try it in Japan. How could I skip this piece of Japanese culture?!
Thanks to Nikka I had the opportunity to explore the art of Japanese whisky – One point that was missing in my experience so far.
So how about Five Things You Need To Know About Japanese Whisky? Here it goes. And trust me: Every point makes you want to pour some of the golden liquid into a glass, sniff, sip, Bill Murray-style.
1. The blend
Japanese, in this case Nikka, is famous for supreme blending skills. It basically means they mix different whiskies, store it – and there is the perfect whisky. Blended whiskys are usually not that mossy, woody, heavy – they are lighter, often softer. Just like you. And me. In Scotland for example, a country which is also famous for whisky, they usually don’t blend. Fools. For my taste it’s 1:0 Japan Scotland.
2. The design
Photos say more than words. But when Nikka was found, it was not only about the taste of the liquor, but also about the look. The aim: To create a timeless, aesthetically pleasing bottle. Who wouldn’t stock his hipster bar with a whisky pretty like the Nikka Whisky from the Barrel? In Japan, you get those beauties at the normal supermarkets. They just know how to do it – even grocery-shopping.
3. The story
There was a soap opera in Japan about the beginning of Nikka – that’s how good the story is! I’m gonna break it down: The Masataka Taketsuru goes to Scotland in 1918 for a Japanese company to learn all about whisky, falls in love with a Scottish woman – Rita, returns to Japan with her, they get married in 1920. Lovely – But things don’t go well: no one’s quite happy about the marriage expect the two, the company he has been send to Scotland got bankrupt. She becomes an english teacher to rich japanese families – in one of them, someone’s looking for a whisky expert to form a new brand in Japan. Voilà, the beginning of Nikka! The first Japanese whisky debuts in 1929, Nikka is formed 1940 – and today Japanese whiskies belong to best in the world (really, this is true – voted by pros around the world. Maybe not by the Scottish, but hey).
4. The Omakase-way
it doesn’t only apply in restaurants, but also in bars – it means “I leave it to you” and make the bartender choose your drink and how it’s mixed. meaning you get a very personalized whisky that will suit your style and taste. Don’t worry, this is not an I -know-better-than-you-kind of service, it has a very warm touch and equals hospitality in Japan. So this is especially nice for everyone who isn’t an expert yet. A philosophy worth taking home, right?
5. The scent
Ok, this doesn’t apply only to whisky, but I found it so interesting: your nostrils aren’t equal. Depending on the daytime, they take scents differently. So it’s important to always use both when sniffing on a glass (or perfume. Or cake. Or person).