Everything There Is to Know About Japanese Whisky

‘Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Desirable Spirit’ guides readers to select and enjoy the best alcohol from Japan.


WordsClémence Leleu

© Suntory

Mellow or robust, floral or smoky, the choice is not always simple when it comes to selecting a bottle of whisky. Lovers of this nectar will have noticed that, in the past few years, Japanese whisky has been carving out a prominent place for itself alongside famous names from Scottish and Irish distilleries, these countries being known as the original homeland of this beverage. 

Thus, for those wishing to discover the major distilleries, those just emerging on the scene and the most innovative players, the book Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit offers a comprehensive review of 110 varieties. Guiding the reader is journalist and author Brian Ashcraft, who visits the best distilleries, explains the techniques and even reveals a few manufacturing secrets. His co-author is Yuji Kawasaki, one of the leading whisky critics in Japan. Nikka, Suntory, Hibiki or Chichibu, nothing escapes the authors’ eyes, nose and palate, as they offer their opinions, completely independently, on the 110 bottles selected.  


Partnerships with the UK and Brazil

Although Japanese whisky is now one of the best-known in the world, as the book explains, this is as a result of a long process of development on the part of the Japanese distillers. It was only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that whisky made its way to the country. Exported from the UK for European immigrants, it soon attracted the Japanese elite. In 1907, an agreement was signed between the UK and Japan to endorse the export of the Royal Household by James Buchanan & Co, a whisky that has a royal warrant by appointment to Her Majesty The Queen.

This created the idea of producing this distilled beverage locally. Eleven years later, in 1918, Settsu Shuzo, a company that was already distilling whisky substitutes, sent Masataka Taketsuru, one of its chemists, to Scotland to study the production process in the most famous distilleries. He spent two years there, before returning to Japan to put his newly acquired knowledge into practice. Before long, he secured a job with Kotobukiya, a company that, until that point, had been selling port and that would soon become Suntory, the first producer of Japanese whisky. Readers can discover what happened next in this comprehensive book that will delight both whisky enthusiasts and novices alike, or those who are simply fascinated by Japanese history and craftsmanship. Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit was awarded the Grand prix du livre Spirit in 2021. 


Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit (2018), a book by Brian Ashcraft released by Tuttle Publishing.

© Tuttle Publishing