How To Drink Japanese Whiskey: 4 Top Ways
The rolling foothills of rural Scotland, gargantuan grain farms in the American south, and the mountainous Yamanashi prefecture of Japan. The first two of these places immediately come to mind when one says whiskey, but all three produce the legendary spirit of the highest quality.
Yamanashi is, in fact, the birthplace of Hakushu 25 Year Old, the whiskey voted World’s Best Single Malt multiple times in recent years.1
Why is it then, that the Land of the Rising Sun doesn’t enjoy the same immediate recognition as other whiskey-producing powerhouses?
Japanese whiskey is as aromatic, refined, and powerful as the smoothest scotches and boldest bourbons, yet national brands like Suntory aren’t nearly as well-known as Western distillers. It’s time to set the Jack aside; we’re headed to the far east to demystify how to drink Japanese whiskey and discover the perfect mixes for this sublime spirit.
#1 – Neat
When pondering what to mix with Japanese whiskey, nothing is a reasonable answer.
It can’t hurt to give good whiskey a go on its own. That is, after all, how whiskey judges and sommeliers tasted Hakushu and determined it to be the best on Earth.1
Many aficionados would say that a few ice cubes would amplify the experience, and there’s an argument to be had there. However, lowering the temperature of liquor also dulls volatile compounds and dampens it’s flavor.2
To experience the full bouquet that a premium Japanese whiskey has to offer, pour out a finger and take a clean sip first. Then you can toss in some cubes, if your heart so desires.
#2 – On The Rocks or With Water
If straight whiskey isn’t within your wheelhouse, then perhaps a bit of ice or water might make things more palatable.
Obviously, adding anything will dilute the spirit somewhat, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Splashing in a bit of water can actually awaken whiskey’s tastes and aromas. The way water molecules interact with whiskey on a chemical level can free up its more flavorful compounds for the palate and make them easily detectable.3
Of course, the enjoyment of a beverage comes down to personal preference. Neat, on the rocks, or diluted, it’s up to your tongue to decide its favorite.
That said, maybe you as a whisky drinker crave something even more complex.
#3 – Japanese Highball
Perhaps the kick of pure whiskey isn’t your thing, and you enjoy a beverage with more balanced flavors. Conveniently, Japanese whiskey is famous for its inclusion in world-class cocktails.
The classic Highball is perhaps the drink most commonly associated with Japanese whiskey, and for a good reason: it’s absolutely delicious.
Not only does it taste fantastic, but it’s also easy to make in the comfort of your own home. Simply gather these basic ingredients:
- Club Soda – Pure carbonated water is the classic choice to taste the full flavors of the other ingredients.
- Citrus – Yuzu would be a showstopper if you were turning drinks out in a high-end Tokyo izakaya, but a squeeze of lime or lemon will do just fine.
- Japanese whiskey – Kamiki Maltage makes a great Highball base because of its balanced and complex body.
- Sugar or simple syrup – Optional, but a little sweetness can play nicely against the bitter and sour notes of the whiskey and citrus.
Fill a glass with ice. (What type of glass? A highball glass, if you have it.) Add an ounce of your chosen whiskey, a heavy squeeze of citrus, and sugar to taste. Pour in soda until the glass is ⅘ of the way full. Stir gently, so the drink doesn’t fizz up and overflow. To finish, squeeze in a few more drops of citrus and garnish with a wedge on the rim, if you’re feeling extra fancy.
There you have it. The simplest of preparations sometimes leads to the most complex and satisfying of flavors.
The Highball is just the first pour when it comes to the possibilities of Japanese whiskey, however. The different combinations are only limited by your preferences and imagination.
#4 – As You Like It
You already know plenty of recipes that suit Japanese whiskey– they’re for your favorite cocktails and drinks.
Japanese whiskey has unique, bold characteristics that can stand up to any country’s distilleries on the world stage. Likewise, it can be incorporated into any number of drinks in the same way you would your other favorite whiskeys.
Japan’s whiskey industry might be less than a century in age,4 but a bold pour of Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt makes a bulletproof Old Fashioned.
Japanese whiskey already blends superbly with citrus in Highballs, so there’s no surprise it makes for a killer Whiskey Sour.
Even simply stirred up with your favorite cola, Japanese whiskey can go into whatever you’ve already been creating in your home mixology lab.
Taste The Land Of The Rising Sun With Japanese Whiskey Delivered by Barbank
Japanese whiskey is some of the most powerful and pleasing that the world has to offer, but it is also some of the most exclusive, so it’s important to know how to store whiskey especially when you might be asking yourself “does whiskey age in the bottle?” There’s a good chance that your corner liquor store hasn’t replenished its Suntory stockpile since Shibui Sherry Cask 18 Year started aging.
Whether you’re after premium whiskey, other liquors, or even wine, we have the bottles to fill up your glass.
Barbank brings quality alcohol from America, Japan, and beyond, right to your front steps. Order today and taste the world from the comfort of your own home.
- Forbes. Japanese Whisky Declared ‘World’s Best Single Malt’ At The World Whisky Awards. https://www.forbes.com/sites/felipeschrieberg/2020/03/26/japanese-whisky-declared-worlds-best-single-malt-at-the-world-whisky-awards/?sh=3381f93b4785
- The Smithsonian Magazine. Warm Beer and Cold Tomatoes: How Temperature Affects Flavor. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/warm-beer-and-cold-tomatoes-how-temperature-affects-flavor-97902505/
- Inside Science. Not So Neat: Why You Should Add Water to Your Whiskey. https://www.insidescience.org/news/not-so-neat-why-you-should-add-water-your-whiskey
- Japan National Tourism Organization. Hakushu Whisky: Suntory's Prized Drams Distilled in Idyllic Yamanashi Prefecture. https://www.japan.travel/en/blog/hakushu-whisky-suntory-s-prized-drams-distilled-in-idyllic-yamanashi-prefecture/