What are the different types of Japanese whisky and their characteristics?

by Spirits

Japanese whisky has been quickly becoming a popular spirit around the world. With its unique flavor profile and complex character, it is no wonder that Japanese whisky is becoming one of the most sought-after spirits. But what are the different types of Japanese whisky and what makes each one unique? Here we will discuss the different types of Japanese whisky and their characteristics.

The two main types of Japanese whisky are blended and single malt. Blended whisky is made from a blend of malt and grain whiskies, while single malt whisky is made from malted barley only. Both styles have their own distinct characteristics and flavors, making them both popular among whisky drinkers.Japanese whisky refers to whisky created in Japan following the style of Scotch whisky. It is often made with barley, though other grains may be used. There are three main types of Japanese whisky: single malt whisky, blended malt whisky, and blended whisky.

Single Malt Whisky: This type of whisky is made from malted barley and water only, and it must be distilled in a single distillery. It is usually aged for several years in oak barrels before it is bottled. The flavor and texture of single malt whiskies vary widely depending on the type of barrel used for maturation, as well as the length of time it has been aged.

Blended Malt Whisky: Blended malt whiskies are a combination of two or more single malt whiskies from different distilleries that have been blended together. These whiskies have complex flavors due to the combination of different malts used in the blend.

Blended Whisky: Blended whiskies are a combination of single malt whiskies and grain whiskies (whiskies made from grains other than malted barley). They tend to be light-bodied and smooth when compared to single malts, making them ideal for mixing into cocktails.


Suntory Whisky is a Japanese whisky distiller established in 1923. It is the oldest Japanese whisky distillery and has been operated continuously since its founding. The company was founded by Shinjiro Torii, who was a chemist and a sake brewer. He created the Japanese whisky blend from a combination of malt whiskies from Scotland, Ireland and Japan’s own native grains. Torii’s vision was to create a whisky that embodied the spirit of Japan and was truly unique to the country. Over the past century, Suntory Whisky has grown to become one of Japan’s leading producers of premium whiskies, winning numerous awards for its quality and craftsmanship.


Suntory Whisky is made using traditional methods which have been passed down through generations. The company sources its malt whiskies from Scotland, Ireland and Japan’s own native grains, which are then aged in a variety of oak barrels sourced from around the world. The barrels used for aging are specially selected for their ability to impart unique flavors and aromas to the whisky. After aging for an appropriate amount of time, Suntory Whisky is blended with other ingredients such as herbs, spices and fruit to create unique flavor profiles. The final product is then bottled at Suntory’s own distillery.

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Awards & Recognition

Suntory Whisky has won numerous awards over the years for its quality and craftsmanship. In 2019 it won ‘World’s Best Blended Whisky’ at the World Whiskies Awards while also taking home ‘Best Blended Malt’ at the International Spirits Challenge in 2018. In addition to this, Suntory has also been awarded ‘Japanese Distiller of the Year’ by Wine Enthusiast Magazine multiple times over recent years.

Japan’s Whisky Legacy

Japanese whisky is world-renowned for its high quality and smooth taste. For over 100 years, Nikka Whisky has been producing some of the best whisky in the world. The company was founded in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru, who is known as the “Father of Japanese Whisky”. He studied the art of distillation in Scotland, and brought the knowledge back to Japan to create a unique style of whisky. Nikka has since become a leader in Japanese whisky production, creating numerous varieties of blended and single malt whiskies.

Nikka Whisky’s Unique Production Process

Nikka uses a wide variety of local ingredients to create their signature whiskies. They use barley from Hokkaido and corn from Miyagi Prefecture to craft their signature blends. In addition, they employ a unique aging process that combines different types of oak barrels for aging their whiskies. This process results in a smooth, flavorful whisky that has become popular around the world.

Nikka’s Popularity Worldwide

Nikka Whisky has become one of the most well-known brands in Japan and around the world. Their whiskies have won numerous awards at international competitions, including several gold medals at The International Spirits Challenge and The San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In addition, Nikka’s products have become popular among mixologists who use them to create innovative cocktails. Whether it’s enjoyed neat or mixed into a creative cocktail, Nikka Whisky is sure to delight any whisky enthusiast with its smooth flavor and high quality ingredients.

White Oak Akashi Whisky

White Oak Akashi Whisky is a unique blend of malt and grain whiskies from Japan. This whisky is aged in a combination of American oak and Japanese mizunara oak casks, giving it a unique flavor profile. The complex flavor profile is highlighted by notes of ripe fruit, vanilla, and oak. The whisky has a smooth, silky finish that lingers on the palate.

The whiskey is produced in the White Oak Distillery located in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. It has been recognized for its high quality and has won several awards including the International Wine & Spirits Competition’s Gold Medal and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition’s Double Gold Medal. The White Oak Distillery also produces other whiskies such as “Akashi Single Cask” and “Akashi Single Malt”.

White Oak Akashi Whisky is ideal for neat drinking or can be used as an ingredient in cocktails. It pairs well with citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons, as well as smoky flavors like bacon or smoked salmon. This whisky is also great enjoyed simply on its own with no accompaniment necessary.

Mars Whisky

Mars Whisky is a unique combination of aged whisky infused with the essence of Mars. The whisky has been aged in barrels for four years and then infused with the essence of Mars to give it a unique flavor. The aroma of Mars whisky is rich and full, with notes of malt, fruit, and wood. The taste is smooth and rich, with hints of spice, chocolate, and smoke. The finish is long and lingering, making it perfect for sipping or enjoying on the rocks.

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Mars Whisky is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks. For those who prefer mixed drinks, it can be mixed with other beverages to create delicious cocktails such as the Mars Manhattan or Mars Old Fashioned. It can also be served as a shot or used in cooking to add a unique flavor to dishes like steaks or grilled vegetables.

Mars Whisky is a great choice for any occasion, from casual gatherings to special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. Its unique flavor makes it an excellent choice for tasting flights or whisky tastings. It also makes a great gift for friends and family who enjoy whisky. No matter how it’s enjoyed, Mars Whisky will always be a memorable experience!

Chichibu Distillery

Chichibu Distillery is a Japanese whisky distillery located in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture. Founded in 2004, the distillery is owned and operated by Ichiro Akuto, a renowned whisky maker who has been producing whisky for over 30 years. The distillery specializes in producing single malt whiskies, using a variety of grains and processes to create unique flavor profiles. The distillery also produces a range of blended whiskies, as well as gin and other spirits. Chichibu Distillery’s whiskies are highly sought after by whisky connoisseurs around the world.

Whisky Production

Chichibu Distillery’s production process begins with malting the grains – which includes soaking them in water to release the sugars that will be used to create alcohol during fermentation. Once the grain is properly malted, it is milled and mashed to extract the sugars that will be fermented into alcohol. After fermentation, the liquid is distilled twice before being aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. During this time, the whisky develops its unique flavor profile and color due to oxidation and evaporation of volatile compounds. Finally, once it has reached maturity, it can be bottled and sold.

Tasting Notes

Chichibu Distillery’s whiskies have distinct flavor profiles that are highly sought after by aficionados around the world. The distillery’s single malt whiskies have notes of honey, citrus fruits and woody spices on the nose; while on the palate they offer hints of vanilla, caramel and oak with a slightly smoky finish. The blended whiskies are smooth yet complex with notes of ripe fruit and sweet spices on the nose; while on the palate they offer hints of vanilla, caramel and oak with a slightly smoky finish.


Chichibu Distillery’s whiskies are available online through their website as well as through select retailers around the world. They can also be found at select bars and restaurants across Japan. Prices vary depending on age and type but generally range from ¥2,000-¥50,000 per bottle (approximately $20-500 USD).


Shinshu Distillery Whisky has a long and rich history. It was established in 1985, by Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of the Nikka Whisky Company. Taketsuru had a vision to create a whisky that was unique to Japan and different from other whiskies available in the market. He wanted to make a whisky that would be enjoyed by both Japanese and international consumers. The Shinshu Distillery Whisky is now regarded as one of the most iconic whiskies to come out of Japan.


The process used to create Shinshu Distillery Whisky is unique and complex. It starts with malting barley, which is then fermented and distilled using pot stills or column stills. After this, the whisky is aged in oak casks for three years or more depending on the desired flavor profile. During this time, the whisky absorbs flavors from the wood of the cask which gives it its distinct taste.

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Flavor Profile

Shinshu Distillery Whisky has a distinct flavor profile that sets it apart from other whiskies. It has a light aroma with notes of fruit, honey, and vanilla, while its flavor is light yet robust with hints of oak, smoke, and caramel. The finish is smooth and lingering with just a hint of spice.


Shinshu Distillery Whisky is widely available in Japan as well as online retailers around the world. If you’re looking for an authentic Japanese whisky experience then this is definitely one you should try!

History and Background

Yamazakura Blended Whisky was created by Suntory in the late 1920s. It was the first whisky developed by the company and has become one of their most iconic products. The whisky has a unique blend of malt and grain whiskies that makes it particularly smooth and flavorful. The blend is aged in American white oak casks, which give it a distinctive golden hue. The name “Yamazakura” originates from a Japanese poem written by Ryokan, which translates to “evening cherry blossom”. This name was chosen to represent the beauty of the whisky’s color, aroma, and taste.

Production Process

The production process for Yamazakura Blended Whisky begins with the selection of malt and grain whiskies from different regions in Japan. These whiskies are then carefully blended together to create the desired flavor profile. Once blended, the whisky is aged in American white oak casks for at least three years to give it a smooth texture and rich character. Finally, it is bottled at 43% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Tasting Notes

Yamazakura Blended Whisky has an aroma of ripe fruit, honey, vanilla, and oak. On the palate it is rich and creamy with flavors of caramel, honey, spice, toasted nuts, and oak. The finish is long and smooth with subtle notes of spice and oak.


Yamazakura Blended Whisky is an iconic product from Suntory that has been enjoyed by generations of whisky drinkers in Japan. It has a unique blend of malt and grain whiskies that make it particularly flavorful and smooth. With its rich aroma and flavor profile as well as its long finish, Yamazakura Blended Whisky is sure to please any whisky lover.


Japanese whisky has a unique and rich history, with its own unique styles, tastes and production methods. The different types of Japanese whisky are differentiated by their distillation processes, aging methods and the type of barley used. Single malt whisky is made from malted barley and is typically aged for several years in oak casks, while blended whiskies are made up of several malt whiskies, as well as other grain whiskies. Aged whiskies are generally more expensive due to their lengthier maturation process while younger whiskies may be preferred by those looking for a fresher, less intense flavour. Whisky drinkers can find a range of Japanese whisky to suit their taste preferences, from smooth and light to robust and smoky offerings.

Overall, Japanese whisky offers an exciting range of flavours and styles for all types of whisky drinkers. With its long history and tradition in producing quality spirits, Japanese whisky will continue to be a popular choice for those looking for an enjoyable drinking experience.



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