“People assume Japanese whisky is just a copy of Scottish whisky,” says author Brian Ashcraft when I meet him in a specialist Japanese whisky bar on a rainy Osaka day. “But it is its own thing. It has its own tradition and culture. Early on when they first started distilling, they knew they were making Japanese whisky. I don’t think they thought they were making Scottish whisky.”

Certainly, the recipe and techniques may have originated in Scotland, but that doesn’t make the drink produced by Yamazaki or Nikka any more Scottish than Kirin beer is German or Californian wine is French. As with alcohol from any country, the taste echoes “the baseline flavors they have here,” says Ashcraft. “I think subconsciously that informs all the flavors in Japanese whisky.”

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.