Dekanta Anniversary week is coming to end and we’re delighted that you could all join us for the celebrations in which we released an exclusive Kavalan bottling, ran huge sales and toasted dekanta. Now, we’re topping it all off with a stunning new whisky that follows on from last year’s impressive Kyōyū World Blended Whisky in style. It’s a bottling that has been some time in the making and one that we know you will enjoy as much as we do. Presenting, The Shimai World Blended Whisky.
Continuing to Celebrate a Historic Partnership
By this point, it’s been well documented that Japan and Scotland have a long-standing friendship that has lasted through the ages and has seen everything from lacquerware to whisky knowledge shared between them.
It began in 1918, when Masataka Taketsuru, “The Father of Japanese Whisky”, travelled to Scotland to study the art of whisky-making. He studied chemistry at Glasgow University and apprenticed at three Scotch Whisky distilleries, picking up the tricks of the trade along the way, before returning to Japan with his newly beloved Scottish wife, Rita Cowan, and helping to launch the Yamazaki Distillery, Japan’s first dedicated whisky distillery, in 1923.
Since then, the industry has experienced its ups and downs, however in recent times Japanese whisky has exploded onto the international market and is now highly sought after around the world.
To celebrate our 6th anniversary, in June 2021, we launched our inaugural World Blended Whisky that was built around the concept of sharing. The Kyōyū honoured this long running partnership between Japan and Scotland by blending top quality whiskies from both nations, combining it with elegant design, resulting in an expression that every wanted.
Now, to celebrate our 7th Anniversary we’re releasing the 2nd Edition in our series. The Shimai – taking its name from the Japanese word for ‘sisters’, is an ode to the sisterly relationship that has developed between the nations over the years. It blends well-aged whisky from some of Scotland’s best distilleries with brilliant single malts from two rising stars of Japanese whisky, and the results are to die for.
Masters of Blending
The Japanese whisky industry dates back to 1919, when Eigashima Shuzo was the first Japanese producer to be granted a license to distil whisky, however the first Japanese whisky wasn’t produced until 1923, at the Yamazaki distillery.
Today, the industry is booming, with thirsty drinkers and collectors everywhere scampering to get their hands on a bottle of precious Japanese single malt whisky. These sought after whiskies from the likes of Yamazaki and Hakushu are no doubt iconic and superb in their own right, however it could be said that it was the Japanese flair for blending that got the industry to where it is today.
Throughout the 20th century, only a handful of whisky distilleries existed in Japan, and many of them did not have the capabilities to produce their own single malt whisky in any great quantities. This led to mass importation of spirit from other countries around the world, such as Scotland, which would then be carefully blended with Japanese spirit to produce exciting blended whiskies.
These were often mislabeled as Japanese whiskies, which went under the radar due to the lack of any whisky-related regulations in the country back then. It could be said that this hampered the industry in recent years, leading to mistrust from customers around the globe, but on the positive side, it also turned Japanese whisky producers into master blenders who now possess unrivaled blending skills.
Today, the likes of the Hibiki range is the perfect example of that, winning award after award at international competitions around the globe, and with the recent introduction of whisky regulations in Japan putting an end to the mislabeling of products, the world blended whisky category has seen an influx of stunning new additions – including our 2021 Kyōyū bottling.
The new category offers Master Blenders across Japan the chance to exhibit their skills in a way in which they will be appreciated around the globe. We’re delighted to shine a light on this category and the insane amount of talent on display among Japan’s blenders with yet another World Blended Whisky.
Taking its name from the Japanese word for ‘sisters’, the Shimai is an ode to the sisterly partnership between Scotland and Japan and the whisky mentorship that has resulted from that.
In Japan, one often refers to their female mentor as “Shimai”, even if they are not related, due to the historic culture of older females mentoring their younger sisters in a bid to help them reach their full potential. The parallels between this and the relationship between Japan and Scotland are ones we felt worth celebrating.
The innovative expression marries well-aged whisky from superb Scottish distilleries with young single malts from two of Japan’s rising stars. It’s a match made in heaven and something that we hope brings as much excitement and joy as the Kyōyū did.
The final result is an incredibly well-balanced, moreish expression that combines rich, fruity and oaky Scotch, with lighter, floral and subtly smoky Japanese whisky.
On the nose it brings a burst of citrus fruits and fresh strawberries that mingle with gentle layers of vanilla before gradually becoming richer, with dried red berries, rich oak, freshly buttered toast and light aromas of muscovado sugar.
Like the nose, the palate starts fresh, with a mixture of pear drops and light oak, before that richness slowly creeps in once again as the oak builds and is joined by melted dark chocolate, Glacé cherries and cinnamon baked apples, all the while subtle smoke lingers in the background.
The finish holds for a medium amount of time and leaves refreshing flavors of sliced apple, fresh berries, charred oak, along with another tickle of cinnamon.
It’s a fine example of a top quality blended whisky that exhibits superb balance throughout.
When designing the bottle for our second World Blended Whisky, we wanted to capture the essence of Japan’s long standing friendship with Scotland, while staying true to our Japanese roots.
Our artist for the label was once again Nicolas Castell, a master of the Ukiyo-e art style originally made famous on Japanese woodblock prints in the 17th century, who also created the art for last year’s Kyōyū bottling.
Nicolas created a work of art that embodies the whisky inside. It’s a joyous display of simplicity, mentorship, friendship and sisterhood that features aspects of both Japanese and Scottish culture, wildlife, and of course, whisky. Two sisters can be seen sharing a dram in a stunning Japanese park, surrounded by beauty that is representative of the whisky inside.
The art is printed on textured Japanese paper that brings an authentic feel to the artwork and makes it stand apart from your average whisky bottling.
It’s a graceful, flowing piece of art, from the label to the whisky inside, and one that we are delighted to share with the world today.
Limited to just 260 bottles, this is an expression you’ll want to get your hands on while you can. If you already own the Kyōyū, you’ll no doubt want The Shimai standing right next to it on your shelf.
To be one of the first to add this excellent new World Blended whisky from dekanta to your whisky collection, click here to pre-order. Delivery begins July 15th.