Part of the prestigious World Drinks Awards program, the World Whiskies Awards take place on 30 March 2017 and are a highlight of the whisky industry calendar. Every year, prominent whisky associations and reviewers gather to celebrate quality whiskies from all over the world. Taste and Design are the two main factors that help the judges from World Whiskies Awards determine the best of the best in each whisky category.

Japanese whiskies have historically performed very well at the awards and we’re on tenterhooks to see which of our favorite whiskies will be walking away with a prize. Here’s a refresher on last year’s action and a rundown of the Japanese whiskies that stole the show.

Nikka Whisky TaketsuruBest Japanese Blended Malt

The Taketsuru Pure Malt was awarded the best Japanese Blended Malt and described as a well-balanced whisky that has a “powerful vanilla and caramel” flavor profile. The maker of this winning whisky characterizes this dram as a mildly malt and fruity whisky, making it a fantastic introduction to the world of Nikka whiskies.

Did you know? The Taketsuru whisky line from Nikka is named after the founder Masataka Taketsuru who was known as the Father of Japanese Whisky.

This whisky was also the category winner of the Japanese Blended Malt No Age Statement.

Hibiki 21 Years OldWorld’s Best Blended Whisky & Best Japanese Blended Whisky

Suntory’s whiskies continue to wow the whisky world, and this particular whisky won the World’s Best Blended Whisky and Best Japanese Blended Whisky awards. Hibiki 21 Years Old has a deep and complex fruity flavor featuring tasting notes of dried fruits, berries,  and citrus; hints of Japanese oak (mizunara) and sandalwood seep through the sweetness of the dram.

The Nikka 12 Years OldBest Japanese Blended Whisky 12 Years and Under

The Nikka 12 Years Old is an exclusive release from the popular Japanese whisky company. World Whiskies Awards noted that this Nikka whisky had a sweet and long-lasting ginger-spice flavor.

Suntory Hibiki 17 Years OldBest Japanese Blended Whisky 13 to 20 Years

Home to carefully blended Suntory whiskies, the sweet and mellow Hibiki 17 Years Old is another elegant Suntory dram that earned an award for the Hibiki line. This Hibiki blend is full of fruity flavors, such as orange, melon, lychee, and peach, with floral, earthy hints of rose, lily, and Japanese oak.

Nikka from the BarrelBest Japanese Blended Whisky No Age Statement

From Nikka’s exclusive reserves, the Nikka from the Barrel is a fusion of malt and grain whiskies that creates a rich and complex flavor profile. The small bottle that the whisky is contained in also enhances the strong tastes of the liquor.

Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master’s SelectGold Medal in Japanese Blended Whisky Category

Jim Murray, a well-known whisky reviewer and author of the Whisky Bible, called the Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master’s Select “a classic whisky in any language or any culture.” This Hibiki whisky is made from various malt and grain whiskies from Suntory’s distilleries and has a delightful fruity flavor with notes of spices and oak.  

The Fuji-Gotemba Distillery Single Grain 25 Years Old Small Batch – World’s Best Grain Whisky

Fuji-Gotemba Distillery is one of the underdogs in the Japanese whisky market, but this exclusive whisky from this lesser known distillery won a prestigious award for best grain whisky. World Whiskies Awards describes this dram as “full of flavours including vanilla, custard and oatcake” and “powerful and complex with a good balance.”

This Fuji-Gotemba single-grain whisky was also honored with the Best Japanese Grain Whisky and Best Japanese Grain Whisky No Age Statement awards. The Fuji-Gotemba Distillery Blender’s Choice Single Grain Whisky also won the award for Best Japanese Grain Whisky No Age Statement award.

Venture Whisky Ichiro’s Malt CHICHIBU Single Cask No. 3867Best Japanese Single Cask Single Malt Whisky

Chichibu Distillery, owned by Venture Whisky Ltd., is a well-known distillery for producing unique and full-bodied whiskies. The Single Cask No. 3867 is matured in two casks: a bourbon barrel and an IPA cask. It’s a fruity whisky with a bite to it!

Hakushu 25 Years OldBest Japanese Single Malt Whisky & Best Japanese Single Malt 21 Years and Over

Refreshing with herbal, earthy, and peaty tasting notes, the Hakushu 25 Years Old is a popular single malt whisky from Suntory and earned the title as the best Japanese single malt around.

Hakushu 12 Years OldBest Japanese Single Malt Whisky 12 Years & Under

A more mild Hakushu peated whisky, the Hakushu 12 Years Old has hints of sweetness and a fresh, earthy taste with a light smoky palate, perfect for those who want to try a slightly peaty dram without overwhelming their taste buds.

Suntory Single Malt Whisky Yamazaki 18 Years OldBest Japanese Single Malt Whisky 13 to 20 Years

Famous for Japanese oak and fruit flavors, the Yamazaki line of whiskies from Suntory is also an award-winning collection just like its Hakushu sibling. The Yamazaki 18 Years Old Single Malt Whisky has won multiple awards and has a rich and deep flavor featuring apples, apricots, blackberry, dark chocolate, and Japanese oak.

The Fuji-Gotemba Distillery Blender’s Choice Single Malt Whisky – Japanese Single Malt Whisky No Age Statement Category Winner

A lovely and exquisite blend of fruits, spices, and oak, the Fuji-Gotemba Distillery Blender’s Choice Single Malt Whisky was carefully made with various malts at the Fuji-Gotemba Distillery to create this delightful spirit.

Nikka Whisky Single Malt Yoichi and Single Malt MiyagikyoGold and Silver for Japanese Single Malt Category   

Both of Nikka’s distilleries won an award in the Japanese Single Malt category: The Single Malt Yoichi achieved the Gold status, and the Single Malt Miyagikyo received the Silver medal. To provide a variety of whisky flavors to whisky enthusiasts around the world, Nikka has two main distilleries for single and pure malts. Yoichi is known for its more peaty taste while Miyagikyo produces whiskies with a more succulent and sweet flavor.

If you would like to read more about 2016 whiskies, be sure to check out our Year In Review: Top Japanese Whisky of 2016 and Most Expensive Japanese Whiskies in 2016 blog posts.

Emily