Japanese Whisky Shines Again At World Whiskies Awards 2019

The World Whiskies Awards is a prestigious competition held annually in which the best expressions from around the world juke it out to be crowned champion in their respective categories.

Everything from blended whiskies to limited edition single malts and world blends get their chance to shine as expert panelists blind taste and score each expression across several rounds, with the final winner being announced at an awards dinner.

In recent years, Japanese expressions have ran out as winners in several of the top categories, really standing out among the best of the best. In 2018, the Hakushu 25 Year Old picked up the distinguished title of World’s Best Single Malt, while the World’s Best Blended Limited Release went to Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Limited Edition, and that’s just to name a few of the best.

World Whiskies Awards 2019 Results

This year’s final results were announced at the cultured award ceremony in London on March 28th (yesterday evening) and once again Japanese whisky stood out, picking up a number of awards and re-highlighting the expert craftsmanship, artistry and raw-talent of distillers in Japan.

Unsurprisingly, the masterful Hakushu 25 once again impressed panelists and was named the best Japanese single malt. It was described as having “Superb harmony and balance” with notes of  “Sherry, vanilla, coniferous tree, delicious.”

Japanese expressions weren’t stopping there though. The Hibiki 21 Year Old, a drink that already has a plethora of awards to its name and that we have championed for some time, was named World’s Best Blended Whisky, pipping the likes of Johnnie Walker 18 to the title.

In fact, the blended categories were dominated by Japanese expressions, and World’s Best Blended Malt went to the truly stunning Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 25 Year Old. This is a dram that has everything from balance to complexity and judges said that “forest notes, a nice sweetness and waxy fruit on the finish” were the stars of the show here.

Ichiro’s Malt also took centre stage once again when their delicious Limited Edition 2019 followed in its predecessors footsteps by being named the World’s Best Blended Limited Release.

Hakushu, Yamazaki and perhaps a few other distilleries will be slightly disappointed that they didn’t take home the World’s Best Single Malt, as they have become more and more accustomed to doing in recent years, but this year’s competition was particularly stiff.

Irish whisky made a long-awaited come back, finally winning the award they have been longing for – the Teeling 24 Year Old Vintage Reserve was crowned as the World’s Best Single Malt.

Having said that, Japanese expression still managed to scoop several of the top prizes, highlighting just how good blenders and distillers in Asia have become.

It’s now been almost 20 years since the Japanese whisky boom and almost 100 years since “The Father of Japanese Whisky”, Masataka Taketsuru, returned to his homeland from Scotland, bringing the secrets and methods of whisky distillation with him.

Since then, more and more people in Japan have developed a serious passion for whisky and the raw methods and nuances of whisky making that Taketsuru introduced to the country have been tirelessly practiced and honed.

For some time now it’s been safe to say that Japanese whisky producers are up there with the best in the world and this year’s World Whiskies Awards results have only strengthened that claim.

If you’re looking to try the best of the best whiskies in the world, you really can’t go wrong with this year’s winners. From the Hakushu to the Hibiki, Nikka Taketsuru and Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Limited Edition, you will get a taste of mastery, expertise and some of the most harmonious and delicious notes ever created.

There may be a lot of doom and gloom around Japanese whisky at present thanks to the huge shadow cast by the current whisky shortage, but that hasn’t stopped some truly excellent expressions being released and this provides more than a glimmer of hope for the future.