The Top Japanese Whiskies You Need to Try

The Top Japanese Whiskies You Need to Try

Japanese whiskies have been steadily gaining popularity in recent years, thanks to their unique flavor profiles and exceptional quality. Distilled using traditional methods borrowed from Scotland, Japanese whiskies have managed to carve out a niche for themselves in the global whiskey market through their distinct taste and aroma.

In this article, we will be discussing some of the top Japanese whiskies that every whiskey enthusiast should try at least once. From the smooth and easy-drinking Hibiki Harmony to the complex and multi-layered Yamazaki 18, there is something for everyone on this list.

So whether you are a seasoned whiskey drinker or just getting started, read on to discover some of the best Japanese whiskies available on the market today.

Hibiki Harmony

Like a symphony orchestra, the Hibiki Harmony is a blend of different whiskies that come together to create a harmonious and complex flavor profile.

This Japanese whisky is a combination of malt and grain whiskies from the Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita distilleries. The resulting liquid is matured in five different types of casks, including American white oak, Sherry oak, and Mizunara oak.

The Hibiki Harmony is smooth on the palate with notes of honey, orange peel, and white chocolate. Its finish is long and satisfying with hints of spice and smoke.

This exceptional whisky has won numerous awards for its balance and complexity, making it a must-try for any whisky connoisseur or enthusiast.

Yamazaki 18

Yamazaki 18 is a Japanese whisky that has been aged in oak barrels for 18 years, resulting in a complex flavor profile. The aging process of Yamazaki 18 has been carefully monitored to ensure that the whisky reaches its optimal flavor profile.

Aging Process

When it comes to the aging process of Yamazaki 18, there are several factors that contribute to its distinct taste and aroma.

Firstly, the whisky is matured in a combination of American, Spanish, and Japanese oak casks for a minimum of 18 years. This allows for the flavors from the different types of wood to blend together and create a complex profile.

Additionally, the aging process takes place in Japan’s humid climate, which causes more interaction between the whisky and the cask, resulting in a richer flavor.

Lastly, the master blenders carefully select and blend different barrels to ensure consistency across each bottling.

Overall, these various elements work together to create a highly sought-after whisky that is both smooth and flavorful.

Flavor Profile

Moving on to the flavor profile of Yamazaki 18, it is known for its complexity and balance.

On the nose, there are notes of dried fruit, honey, and oak that give way to a palate filled with flavors of caramel, cinnamon, and vanilla.

The finish is long and smooth with a hint of spice.

The use of different types of oak casks during the aging process contributes to the depth of flavor, while the blending process ensures consistency across each batch.

It is no wonder that Yamazaki 18 has become a favorite among whisky enthusiasts worldwide.

Nikka Coffey Grain

Continuing on from our discussion of the Yamazaki 18, we cannot overlook the Nikka Coffey Grain whisky. Made using a unique continuous still called Coffey Still, which is a column still with two columns, this whisky has been winning awards worldwide since its inception in 2012.

With its sweet and fruity flavor profile and an alcohol content of 45%, it is no wonder that this particular Japanese whisky has made a name for itself. Here are some reasons why you should try the Nikka Coffey Grain:

  • The Coffey Still gives it a unique flavor that sets it apart from other whiskies.
  • Its sweet and fruity notes make it an excellent choice for those who prefer milder whiskies.
  • It is great for mixing in cocktails due to its smoothness.
  • It is reasonably priced compared to other aged Japanese whiskies.

So if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of Japanese whiskies beyond the Yamazaki 18 or want to try something new, give the Nikka Coffey Grain a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Taketsuru Pure Malt

You may be surprised to learn that the Taketsuru Pure Malt, despite its Japanese origin, was actually named after a Scottish man. Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky and creator of this exceptional blend, studied the art of whisky-making in Scotland before bringing his knowledge back to Japan. The Taketsuru Pure Malt is a testament to his expertise and attention to detail. This whisky is composed of malt whiskies from both Nikka’s Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries, carefully blended together to create a harmonious flavor profile. The result is a smooth and well-balanced whisky with notes of honey, vanilla, and cocoa. To further emphasize the unique qualities of this whisky, see the table below:

Tasting Notes
NoseHoney, apricot, peach
PalateVanilla, oak, cocoa
FinishLong-lasting with hints of smoke

The Taketsuru Pure Malt is sure to impress even the most discerning whisky connoisseur. Its rich history coupled with its exquisite taste make it a must-try for anyone looking to explore the world of Japanese whiskies.

Chita Single Grain

Moving on from the Taketsuru Pure Malt, another top Japanese whisky worth trying is the Chita Single Grain.

This whisky hails from the Chita Peninsula and is produced by Suntory, one of the biggest names in Japanese whisky.

What sets it apart from other whiskies is that it is made entirely from corn, contrary to most Japanese whiskies which use malted barley.

The result is a smooth and mellow taste with hints of honey and citrus.

It has been aged for at least 12 years in American white oak casks, giving it a warm and velvety finish.

As a single grain whisky, it may not be as complex as its blended counterparts, but its unique flavor profile still makes it a standout among Japanese whiskies.

Which Japanese Whiskies Pair Well with Chocolate?

Explore the delightful world of whisky and chocolate pairings to try with Japanese whiskies. Find harmony in the rich, smooth flavor of Yamazaki 18 Year Old, complemented by a dark chocolate with subtle notes of fruit. Or delight in a different experience with the Hakushu 12 Year Old, pairing perfectly with a milk chocolate infused with smoky hints. These whisky and chocolate pairings offer a unique, indulgent treat for your palate.


The world of whisky is vast, and it’s not just Scotland that produces exceptional whiskies. Japan has been making waves in the whisky industry, with distinct flavors that are sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.

One of the top Japanese whiskies you need to try is Hibiki Harmony. This blend of malt and grain whiskies offers a sweet and fruity flavor with hints of spice and oak.

Yamazaki 18, on the other hand, is a single malt whisky aged for 18 years in Japanese oak barrels. It boasts a rich and complex flavor profile with notes of dried fruit, honey, and cinnamon.

Nikka Coffey Grain is another must-try Japanese whisky that’s made from corn instead of the usual barley. This unique ingredient gives it a smooth and creamy texture with flavors of vanilla and caramel.

Taketsuru Pure Malt, named after the father of Japanese whisky, is a combination of malt whiskies from different distilleries for a balanced taste.

Lastly, Chita Single Grain is produced by Suntory Distillery using corn as its base ingredient. The result is an elegant and light-bodied whisky with notes of citrus and honey.

In conclusion, exploring Japanese whiskies can be an exciting journey for any whisky enthusiast. From Hibiki Harmony’s fruity sweetness to Yamazaki 18’s complexity, there’s something for everyone. Nikka Coffey Grain’s unusual recipe may pique your interest while Taketsuru Pure Malt pays homage to Japan’s rich history in whisky-making. And if you’re looking for something light yet refined, Chita Single Grain won’t disappoint. So why not embark on this adventure today? Who knows – you might just discover your new favorite drink!