Saturday, May 26, 2007

Japanese Single Malt Whisky

Another fascinating Sispster, Chris Bunting, tells us about his passion for his favorite Japanese spirit! After reading his Sipster Submission here on The Liquid Muse, visit his blog, Nonjatta, devoted to Japanese Single Malt. Here's Chris:

My first experience of Japanese single malt whisky was inspired by loneliness. I live over here in a city on the edge of the Tokyo-Yokohama megalopolis with my wife and two-year-old son. She had gone abroad for a conference and I had just put my son to bed. It was a Friday night and I wanted a drink. My wife and I usually share a bottle of wine on a Friday but I didn't feel up to it on my own. I just wanted a glass of something a bit stronger than tea.

I don't remember what I did that night - probably siphoned off a snifter from my petrol tank - but the next day I took a detour round the spirits section in my local supermarket. There were little miniature 180ml bottles of single malt whisky: a Laphroaig, a Bowmore and two Japanese single malts. I went for one of the Japanese ones, called Hakushu, and the Laphroaig. That night I had a glass from each and it was a bit of a revelation. The Laphroaig was damn nice, but so, in a totally different way, was the Hakushu.

That was where my journey in the world of Japanese single malt began. I have been posting everything I have found out on my blog, Nonjatta. Although I've got a long way to go until I really get a handle on this fascinating corner of the spirit world, I've tasted many more Japanese whiskies since that first Hakushu. Not all of them have been great but I can say that Japanese single malts compete toe to toe with anything from Scotland, Ireland or North America. The Japanese are the second biggest producers of single malt whisky in the world and their drams are regularly winning international competitions these days. For anybody who is interested in this near 90 year old distilling tradition, I will finish this little write-up with a bit of bad news and a bit of good news. First the bad: at the moment, particularly in America, it is quite difficult to get hold of anything but Yamazaki single malt. The good news: there are many dozens of expressions from 10 different distilleries on the Japanese market just waiting to get on the boat.

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