As the reputation of Japanese whisky has spread across the globe, the number of distilleries in Japan has risen to meet demand. In 2011, there were only nine nationwide, but that number has since increased to more than 20.

While goliaths such as Suntory and Nikka currently lead the category, the craft distillery scene is booming and, as competition rises, so does the quality and level of experimentation taking place at each distillery.

Some of the new cohort of distilleries are tiny (the Nagahama Distillery in Shiga Prefecture is just 8 tsubo, or 26½-square-meters) while others only produce whisky as a side venture to their main products, such as sake and shōchū. But many are chomping at the bit to get into the market, fully committing to whisky production.