The World’s Best Whisky

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DRINK: The World’s Best Whisky

For connoisseurs, the only whiskies that come close to rivalling Scotch are those brewed by the Japanese. Made in the Scottish style with true attention to detail, Eastern breweries such as Nikka and Suntory are relative newcomers to the ancient art of distilling. But what they lack in heritage they make up for in craftsmanship and innovation, quickly earning Japanese whiskies a reputation as amongst the best in the world.

Read on for our pick of Japan’s finest drams, from the country’s top 3 distillers.

Image: 3D On the Rocks, Suntory

1. Suntory Hibiki 21 Years Old

Suntory may be the oldest of Japan’s whisky houses, but the company’s relative youth means it has earned a name for itself as one of the most innovative brands on the global whisky stage. Founded by Shinjiro Torii in homage to Scotch whisky, almost a century of developing concepts and refining recipes since their first release in 1929 has established Suntory as Japan’s best-known and best-loved whisky.

From the popular Yamasaki blends to the bold flavours of the Hakushu distillery, Suntory’s vast selection of whiskies can leave you wondering which bottle to reach for first. All have their merits, but if your pockets are deep enough then there’s really no substitute for the luxury Hibiki 21 Years Old. Topping the blended whisky category four times at the World Whiskey Awards and scoring 96 out of 100 in Jim Murray’s renowned Whiskey Bible, this is a truly special and dangerously drinkable bottle.

£449.95 via Master of Malt

2. Nikka Single Malt Yoichi, 45%

Founder Masataka Taketsuru apprenticed in Scottish distilleries for two years before returning to Japan in 1920 and working to release the first Nikka whisky in 1940. Today, Nikka produces a huge range of whiskies across two distilleries – Yoichi, producing more robust blends in the cooler climate of Hokkaido, and Miyagikyo, blending gentler whiskies in northern Honshu.

Voted Best Buy in a recent round-up by the Independent, Nikka’s smoky, affordable Single Malt Yoichi is a blend from different years and the perfect introduction to one of Japan’s whisky powerhouses.

£67.45 from The Whisky Exchange

3. Chichibu on the Way

Although Japanese whisky remains dominated by big-name distilleries, upstart Chichibu has been disrupting the status quo since 2008. The first new distillery in Japan since the 1970’s, Chichibu is the brainchild of Ichiro Akuto, who’s grandfather first started making whisky at the family’s Hanyu sake brewery.

With very small production and limited releases, Chichibu whisky is hard to come by, but you can currently get your hands on a bottle of 2015 Chichibu On the Way – a multi-vintage blend charting the progress of Japan’s fledgling distiller.

£140 from The Whisky Exchange

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