The 10 Best Japanese Whiskeys To Give As A Gift | Life

Being on vacation means that many will undoubtedly be spending money on family and friends, and in some cases, yourself. Whiskey is an elegant gift to give anytime, and what better time than now?

Although avid collectors, scarcity and high demand have driven up prices and made them inaccessible – 100 million yen for a 55 year old bottle of Yamazaki – I would like to come up with a list that I have curated for the ordinary person. , with many categories to choose from.

Best Single Malt: The Hakushu

Hakushu is a whiskey that evokes thoughts of nature with its floral, herbaceous and fruity notes. Yes, the age declaration variants are better, but that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with the version without age declaration (SIN). It’s so much more affordable as a daily drinker and as a gift (and it would always be appreciated to receive).


Best grain: Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey

Named after inventor Mr. Aeneas Coffey, it is a whiskey made primarily from corn in “Coffey” column stills. Despite the name, there is no actual cafe in what, surprisingly, fools enthusiasts in the community into believing it exists. It has a grainy aroma with a light fruit taste.


Best mix: Hibiki 17 years old

The appearance of this whiskey in the 2003 film Lost in translation saw actor Bill Murray’s character Bob Harris popularize Japanese whiskey in real life from his famous fictional Japanese commercial “Suntory Time”. It’s the Hibiki to have, but I’ve included a cheaper version on this list for those on a budget.


Best whiskey in the world: Suntory World Whiskey Ao

There are basically only two world whiskeys, Suntory’s Ao and Nikka’s Session. Both are relatively new versions. While Nikka is a blend of whiskeys from three distilleries in two countries (Japan and Scotland), Suntory’s blend comes from seven distilleries located in five major whiskey regions (Japan, Scotland, United States, Canada and Ireland). I prefer the Ao because the taste is comparable to Suntory’s Hibiki Japanese Harmony.


Best Bourbon: Four Roses Super Premium

I bet you’re asking, “Why is bourbon on this list?” Let me explain. The Kirin Brewery Company bought Four Roses in 2002, and this is a unique version only in Japan. With a taste of fruit punch, buy it for its taste or its exclusivity.


Best scotch-like: Nikka Whiskey Single Malt Yoichi

Yoichi is the flagship single malt from Nikka’s first distillery of the same name. Founder Masataka Taketsuru chose Yoichi in Hokkaido because of his similarity to Scotland. In Japan, this would be the closest relative climate. In this whiskey, you will find elements of nature such as grass, peat, smoke and fruits. Those who are used to scotch and also know Japanese whiskey will feel right at home with this intermediate whiskey.


Best budget: Suntory Old Whiskey

Easily recognizable by its bottle shape, which resembles a Daruma doll, this smooth and sweet whiskey is readily available in almost all supermarkets and liquor stores in Japan. The price cannot be beat.


Money is no problem: the Yamazaki 2021 Limited Edition

This is the latest annual limited release from Suntory, but it’s not for everyone at its price point. I call it my Whiskey of the Year for its taste, but it is also a solid collector’s investment. It’s only for those you really love.


Best overall finalist: Yamazaki

This is the NAS version of the Yamazaki Single Malt Whiskey range which includes 25, 18, 12 and 10 year old whiskeys out of production. Each one tastes different, but I would say that in comparison the NAS has a more balanced flavor than the next 12 year old bottling that is harder and more expensive.


Best Ensemble: Hibiki Japanese Harmony

Many people prefer the taste of single malt whiskey (malt whiskeys produced in one distillery and then blended together) over blended whiskey (whiskeys produced in multiple distilleries, possibly with grain whiskey included, and blended all together). Besides the great taste, I recommend Hibiki as the best overall choice because the presentation is second to none. The bottle full of Japanese tradition features an Echizen washi paper label with the kanji for Hibiki written in shodo (Japanese calligraphy). The 24 facets or sides of the bottle symbolize the 24 hours of the day and sekki (24 seasons) of the traditional Japanese calendar. I couldn’t throw my bottle away because of its beauty, so I kept it to use as a vase.

Some things to remember. The whiskey starts at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV) and only goes up from there. Do not try to buy it and send it to anyone in your home country. It is not possible to send alcohol above 20% ABV by post. For international residents in Japan, the only way to legally collect it is in your checked baggage if you are planning to return home. To get hold of them, many of them can be found at your local supermarket or liquor store. Otherwise, they are also available by order online on Amazon Japan and Rakuten.

If you want to learn more about the world of whiskey in Japan, be sure to check out my book “50 Japanese whiskeys” and remember that drinking, collecting, gifting or receiving whiskey can be satisfying. I only ask you to respect it because it is not meant to be rejected like tequila. It’s for fancy people, so keep it classy.

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