According to the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association, whisky shipments in Japan have increase roughly 2.5-fold over 12 years.

Perhaps unknown to most people, on Feb. 12, the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association, a nongovernmental trade group of the country’s major producers, established new labeling standards that will require “made in Japan” whisky to only contain ingredients sourced here. That’s a very big deal because many Japanese whiskies have, up until now, actually blended in whiskies from other countries and regulations were extremely loose.

From April 1, if it says “Japanese whisky” on the bottle, you’ll know it means 100% made in Japan. It also is bound to reverberate through the market as certain blends in certain bottles will no longer be made and therefore become instantly rare and collectable.

A Brief History of Japanese Whisky | FLAVIAR
A Brief History of Japanese Whisky | FLAVIAR

So you probably do know that certain Japanese whiskies have become a hot item simply because they have the respect of the world’s connoisseurs, but did you know there’s a wave of lesser known distilleries coming up in the ranks?

Take Venture Whisky. It started small, with four people, in 2004. Ichiro Akuto took more than 400 casks of unblended whisky from his father’s failing brewery in Saitama Prefecture, let them age for several more years, and then he sold it to launch his new business.

Fast forward to 2020, when Venture Whisky was honored at the World Whiskies Awards in Britain for Ichiro’s Malt & Grain, named best blended limited release. “Kampai!” to that, we say.