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“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.”

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