Although sacrilege to some purists who want their whisky straight or on the rocks, Japanese whisky is actually extremely good for cocktails. In fact, some bars around the world import it especially for this purpose, as bourbon or Scotch simply does not do the trick in their minds. According to David Shenaut, a bar manager in Portland, Oregon, the reason is simple: “A lot of American whiskeys throw a ton of flavours at you,” he said. He added, “It’s about the big spicy rye or the big char barrel, and it falls apart if you add water to it. Whereas Japanese whisky is made to drink with water added to it. When you dilute Japanese whisky, all of these beautiful flavor compounds come out.”

In light of this we at dekantā thought we’d introduce you to a few excellent cocktails using Japanese whisky. Below are five recipes, some of them well known and popular, others a bit creative.


The Beast


2 cubes of sugar
4 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 lemon wheel
1 lime wheel
1 orange wheel
1 cocktail cherry
1/2 teaspoon Grenadine syrup
1/4 cup of your finest Japanese whisky
A splash of ginger ale

Put the sugar cubes in a glass, add citrus wheels, cherry, and grenadine. Smash it just enough to release the juices and oils. Add a little whisky and ice cubes, then stir. Finally top up with ginger ale or club soda.


The Smash


7 mint leaves
½ lemon
1 teaspoon of syrup
¼ cup of your finest Japanese whisky
crushed Ice

This is a wonderfully refreshing recipe. Start by mashing (and we mean really mashing) 7 fresh mint leaves, half a lemon, and 1 teaspoon of syrup in a 16 oz. glass or cocktail mixer. Mix it well, then add ¼ cup of your finest Japanese whisky. Nikka is often used. Pour it in a glass, add crushed ice, stir, and then add a little more crushed ice. Add mint sprigs to finish.


Coke and Nuts whisky


2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ¼ cups water
1 tsp. orange flower water
1 oz. brandy or vodka

Take two cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts and place in a food processor or blender while combining sugar and water on a saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for 2–3 minutes and then add the peanuts. Lower the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes. When it is about to boil again, remove from the heat and cover. Let it stand for a few hours, ideally six. Now place the mixture through a cheesecloth or fine strainer, discarding the peanuts. Add whisky and it’s ready to serve.




1 1/2 oz. of your finest Japanese whisky
1 oz. of lemon juice
1/2 oz. of simple syrup
1 cocktail cherry

Simple, really! Just pour your finest Japanese whisky into a glass, add a little lemon juice, syrup and stir well. Cherry comes last.

The Red Akuma

1 cup of blood orange juice
2 teaspoons of Agave
1/2 cup of your finest Japanese whiskey
1 average sized jalapeno, chopped with stem removed (about 2 teaspoons)

Mix blood orange juice, agave and whisky in a cocktail shaker. Then stir until perfectly combined. Add jalapeño, replace the cup, and shake three or four times. Now pour through a strainer into glasses filled with ice. Discard the jalapeño and enjoy!

Henry Baldvin