Whisky is fun, great fun. Talking about it is fun; drinking it even more fun. But you already know that — that’s why you’re here. We thought we’d introduce you to a few fun facts about Japanese whisky that you might or might not know.
1. Japanese whisky is spelled “whisky” not “whiskey”
Those of you who have spent some time in Japan have probably noticed the influence of American culture on the country. However, this does not apply to whisky. Japanese whisky is proudly “whisky,” as opposed to “whiskey.” The makers pride themselves on being close to the original Scottish drink in every way, including the spelling. Which brings us to our next point.
2. The Japanese whisky industry is (a little) less than 100 years old.
Yes, that’s right. The Japanese whisky industry is comparatively young. Its founder was Masataka Taketsuru, who learned his art in Scotland just after the end of World War I. But we have already told this story. Before Taketsuru’s whisky, there was something with a similar colour to whisky made in Japan from time to time, but that wasn’t really whisky.
3. The Japanese like highballs
Highball, or diluted whisky, and whisky-based cocktails are popular in Japan. You will find them at almost every bar in the country. Japanese whisky makers of course take note of this and as a result, Japanese whisky is exceptionally well suited for being mixed with water. Unlike most other whisky it rarely loses its characteristic taste when diluted. In fact, bartenders in the West are starting to notice how excellent Japanese whisky is for cocktails.
4. Whisky used to be a drink for men in Japan, but that has been changing.
Whisky used to be mostly consumed by men in Japan, often by the so-called “salary man.” But with the TV show Massan being the rage among housewives, this had begun to change. Most housewives don’t actually drink it straight. They may dilute it or drink it in cocktails. Nevertheless, the idea of a disciplined, dedicated Japanese housewife indulging in whisky is quite interesting.
5. Bill Murray was drinking Hibiki 17 years old in “Lost in Translation.”
“For relaxing times, make it a Suntory time,” Bill Murray said a few times in the movie. He was actually drinking the Suntory Hibiki 17 year old. That is, until the director told the clueless Murray that it was quite expensive. Oh and yes, Sean Connery also drank Suntory (Old) in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice.
6. It’s the best
Seriously, it is. Just look at all the international whisky awards Japanese whiskies have been winning. Even Jim Murray (no relation to Bill as far as we know), who makes a living speaking about whisky, thinks so, and he should know.