The cask is essential for making whisky as it greatly affects the colour and taste. As a result, each distillery uses many different types of casks for maturation. An example of a cask unique to Japan is the Mizunara cask also known as Japanese oak cask. Due to its peculiar character it is extremely difficult to manufacture and can only be done by an expert craftsman. Finding good wood for cask making is also challenging as the wood has to be at least 200 years old. The reason that Japanese whisky makers use this wood anyway is because if correctly done, the Mizunara will impart a beautiful and unique flavour, making all the hard work worthwhile.

Besides Mizunara, there has been some attempt to use Japanese cedar (“Hinoki”). The process isn’t simple, as using just cedar will result in too strong a flavor. Therefore the geniuses at Suntory came up with the idea of filtering the malt through a special Japanese bamboo charcoal filter. We dont know how on earth they came up with this idea, but it worked and the product became a hit for a while. Most people say that the whisky is so mild that it goes perfectly with Japanese food. We know that mixing whisky with food might sound odd to some Westerners, but the Japanese do it, and the whisky they make is perfectly suited for just this purpose — you might want to give it a try sometime.

Henry Baldvin