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Top Japanese Whiskey Under $50 2023 | Must-Try Japanese Whiskey For Beginners and Whiskey Lovers!

best japanese whiskey brands

Looking for some amazing Japanese whiskey? Here are some of the top Japanese whiskey under $50 every whiskey lover should try!

Over the past few years, Japanese whiskey has garnered quite a bit of popularity in the alcohol world.

The demand for Japanese whiskey today is pretty high and so is its price. Some other brands are offering no-age-statements and new blends and many of them are great for cocktails!

If you want to buy an authentic Japanese whiskey bottle, make sure to do your research.

There are some brands that source whiskies from different countries to make their own blend, call it a no-age-statement blend, bottle it in Japan and market it as Japanese whiskey. 

If you’re looking for best Japanese whiskey under 50$, Mars Iwai Japanese whiskey brand is a good place to start.

So here’s a list of the top Japanese whiskey brands and their best Japanese whiskey bottles so you can get the best one!

Japanese whiskey under $50: Quick glance

Japanese Whiskey Under $50Price
Akashi White Oak$46.00
Suntory Toki$49.99
Mars Shinshu Iwai 45$36.00
Matsui Shuzo Blended Japanese Whisky$46.00
Nikka Days Blended Whisky$49.00
Kiuchi No Shizuku Hitachino Nest Whisky$49.00
Hatozaki Blended Japanese Whisky$41.00
Nikka “From the Barrel” Whisky$49.99 – $99.99
Kikori Japanese Whisky$36.86 to $58.90
Suntory Ao World Whisky$47.99
Mars Iwai Blue Label$39.99

What is the best Japanese whisky? 

With the help of a few experts I’ve made a list of some of the top Japanese whiskey every whiskey lover should try: 

  • Best Overall: Yamazaki 12 Year Old
  • Best Under $50: Mars Shinshu Iwai 45
  • Best Under $100: Nikka Coffey Grain
  • Best for Highball: Suntory Toki
  • Best No-Age-Statement Blend: Akashi White Oak
  • Best Sherry Cask: Ohishi 8 Year Old
  • Best Single Malt: Hakushu 12 Year Old
  • Best Age Statement Blend: Hibiki 17 Year Old
  • Best Peated: Nikka Yoichi
  • Best for Cocktails: Shinju Whisky

Best Japanese Whiskey Under $50

Mars Iwai Blue Label

  • Flavor Notes: menthol and vanilla
  • Nose: Fruity and vanilla
  • ABV: 40% 
  • Finish: Medium bodied

When it comes to Japanese whiskies all within a budget of $50 or less, the first thing that comes to mind is Mars Shinshu Distillery’s Iwai Blue Label Japanese whisky. 

This Japanese whisky stands out from the rest with its unique bourbon-inspired style, aging it in bourbon casks, giving it a bourbon-like tasting note. 

It has a nose of fruit and vanilla and a flavour of menthol and vanilla that blends beautifully with other elements of the whisky. 

The whisky has a finish with a medium-bodied texture that is delightful on the tongue, making this one an enjoyable experience.

Iwai Blue Label Japanese whisky is a medium-bodied whisky with a complex taste that has been crafted to perfection. 

It has a golden yellow color that reveals its quality and sophistication, something to be treasured. 

The first sip is rewarding, the nose is filled with fruity scents and the hint of vanilla that is subtly present makes this whisky all the more tempting. The mild menthol on the palette, accompanied by the sweet vanilla, gives a gentle transition to the more intense flavours once it reaches the throat. 

The finish is medium-bodied, leaving an enjoyable lingering feeling that is satisfying and enhances the experience of sipping this whisky.

This whisky stands apart from other traditional Japanese whiskies, as it was made to challenge the ever-evolving whisky market. 

The combination of distilling great quality with affordable pricing makes this beverage one of a kind. 

Mars Iwai Blue Label Japanese whisky gives you the chance to enjoy a bourbon-style drink without breaking the bank.

This delicious whisky is the perfect choice when looking for an unconventional option at a low cost. It is also perfect for occasions, from lighthearted gatherings, to more formal events, Iwai Blue Label Japanese whisky will not disappoint, as it is sure to be a hit amongst your guests.

For those who want a Japanese whisky that doesn’t break the budget, Mars Iwai Blue Label Japanese whisky is the perfect choice. 

The unique combination of flavour notes and the light body make this a whisky worth savoring. It is an affordable option, given its quality, and the perfect one for that special occasion or for simply indulging in a luxurious moment.

Suntory Ao World Whisky

  • Flavor Notes: Toasty and fruity, sweet and tarty
  • Nose: Smokey
  • ABV: 43%
  • Finish: moderately rich

It can be hard to find a good Japanese whisky that’s reasonably priced and falls within the $50 budget – unless you know how to look. Fortunately, there is one world-sourced blended whisky that has been perfectly crafted to provide an unforgettable experience. 

Suntory Ao World Whisky is a stunningly balanced whisky that has a wonderful smokey nose, followed by toasty and fruity notes that finish off with a wonderfully sweet and tarty note.

This whisky is a perfect mixture of char and peat and provides a perfectly balanced whisky with the perfect level of smokiness. 

You can pick up hints of some floral notes, along with some nutty and malty characteristics. However, it’s the sweetness that really stands out – the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, finishing off with a moderate richness.

The aroma of Suntory Ao is something else entirely. Once you pour yourself a glass, you’ll be hit by a wave of peaty, smoky notes. 

The flavour of this whisky well and truly lives up to the expectations set by its aroma. Upon the first sip, you will be treated to a velvety smooth feel that lingers in the mouth as you savour the richness. 

There’s a wonderful balance of smoke, spice and sherry that develops further and further for each sip. The finish is brisk and crisp, with a moderate intensity that lingers on the tongue.

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Suntory Ao is an exceptional whisky for the price. It offers some truly unique aromas and flavours that you wouldn’t find in any other whisky that’s within the same price range. 

It’s a smooth, full-flavoured whisky that is easy to drink – the perfect whisky for a night in with friends. Moderately rich and wonderfully balanced, Suntory Ao World Whisky is one whisky you can’t afford to miss.

Kikori Japanese Whisky

  • Flavor Notes: fruit and vanilla
  • Nose: floral, shochu 
  • ABV: 41%
  • Finish: Smooth

When it comes to Japanese whiskies that won’t break the bank, there’s one name that stands out above the rest: Kikori. 

Distilled from premium rice and mountain water, and aged in both American Oak and French Oak for a smooth, mellow flavor profile, this is one brand of whiskey that goes beyond its modest price tag to deliver a uniquely nuanced and high-quality spirit.

The taste of Kikori whisky is distinct from other Japanese whiskies, offering high notes of floral sweetness, distinguished and nuanced flavours of fruit, and rich, vanilla undertones. 

In fact, the taste profile of this whiskey is so rich and robust that many often compare it to a warm and comforting bourbon. 

On the nose, Kikori exhibits an aroma of shochu, with smoky and herbal notes working together to create a captivating and inviting scent that will win over any spirits aficionado.

The real power of Kikori however, lies in its incredibly low cost as a high-quality Japanese whisky. 

While many of its contemporaries in this category are hundreds of dollars a bottle, Kikori can often be found for under $50, making it the perfect bargain option for those on a tighter budget. 

On the palate, this Japanese whisky offers a smooth yet potent drink that doesn’t sound overly sweet or cloying. Each sip is surprisingly well-balanced, with light fruit and honey tones that linger and make it a very easy drinking whiskey.

In addition to tasting great and being budget-friendly, this whiskey also has a lovely golden-brown hue that sparkles beautifully in the glass. 

This color and luscious aroma makes Kikori the perfect summer whisky, best enjoyed on the rocks or with a light mixer. But if you prefer something more complex, then you can opt to have it neat or in a classic old-fashioned. 

Kikori is a rare blend of excellent quality and affordability, which is why it’s one of the premier Japanese whisky brands on the markettoday. Whether you have a tight budget or are just looking for a smooth and well-crafted whisky, Kikori Japanese Whisky is a great option and is sure to delight any whiskey enthusiast.

Nikka “From the Barrel” Whisky

  • Flavor Notes: Tobacco and spice, dried fruits and toffee
  • Nose: Smokey
  • ABV: 51.4%
  • Finish: Full bodied

When it comes to finding the best Japanese whiskies under $50, the Nikka “From the Barrel” Whisky is an excellent choice. It has full-bodied notes that bring together the tobacco, spice and dried fruit flavors of a classic blended whiskey. 

The finish is smooth with subtle hints of toffee, making it suitable for drinking neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail. 

The Nikka “From the Barrel” Whisky has won multiple awards for its replication of the distinctive flavor of bourbons like the Yamazaki. 

It begins with a seemingly simple aroma of floral with thick oak, but its flavor quickly develops into a delicious multilayered experience. Initially you may get a smoky wood taste from the charred oak casks, which then is followed by sweet hints of vanilla and honey. 

As the finish approaches, you can sense the flavors of dried fruits and toffee that stay on the tongue.

The Nikka “From the Barrel” Whiskey is full of complexity and each sip is developed and diverse. Its flavor range can satisfy those who love whisky and whiskey alike. 

The liquor carries a slightly sweet scent and offers a delightful balance of smokiness as well as warmth that can be taken pleasure in on its own, or as part of a cocktail. 

Its price also makes it one of the most affordable options for a whisky with such distinguished notes.

The Nikka “From the Barrel” Whisky is expertly-crafted and highly regarded for its quality and exquisite flavor. Its composition of smooth spices with a touch of fruity sweetness gives it a unique intensity that is hard to find in most whiskies from around the world – let alone those under $50. 

With one sip you can tell it’s worth every dollar and it’s no wonder it is so frequently awarded by numerous tasting competitions. 

If you are looking for an unforgettable experience that is sure to give you an unforgettable flavor for an unbeatable price, the Nikka “From the Barrel” Whiskey is the perfect pick. 

With its combination of bold notes, toffee sweetness and a smooth finish, it won’t leave you disappointed. It’s a whisky to remember and best of all, it’s perfect for any occasion under $50!

Hatozaki Blended Japanese Whisky

  • Flavor Notes: Grainy, sweet palate
  • Nose: malt and cereal, notes of fruity nectarine
  • ABV: 40%
  • Finish: – 

If you’re looking for a craft blend of high-quality malt and grain whiskies that offer a deliciously complex flavor without the hefty price tag, then look no further than Hatozaki Blended Japanese Whisky. 

This exquisite blend of malt and grain whiskies goes through an extensive barreling process in both sherry, bourbon, and Mizunara casks, making its flavor as complex as any drink from an extravagant distillery. 

The resulting whisky has a unique and wine-like texture while displaying initial aromas of malt and cereal with a refreshing finish of notes of fruity nectarine.

Enjoying the intense flavors of this Hatozaki Blended Japanese Whisky can be described as a journey—from the sweet, grainy initial flavors to the lingering sweetness of honey that tickles your palate. 

When you take the first sip, you’ll find the whisky to be sweet, juicy, and full of complexity. This unique flavor comes from the perfect mix of malt and grain whiskies, making it an ideal drink for any occasion. 

As you continue to sip, you’ll taste the hints of malt and cereal flavors mixed with a citrusy flavor. Then, you’ll start to notice the whisky’s complexity through the warm, peppery finish and the soft honey sweetness it leaves behind. 

This special blend of malt and grain whiskies makes for a beautifully balanced whisky that will entice your taste buds with every sip.

The Hatozaki Blended Japanese Whisky offers you the best of both worlds – a flavorful, complex whisky at an affordable price. 

With the distinct and well-balanced flavor profile, you can guarantee that it will be one bottle you’ll keep coming back to, time and time again. 

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So, if you’re looking for an exquisite whisky that’s both delicious and affordable, then look no further than the Hatozaki Blended Japanese Whisky.

Kiuchi No Shizuku Hitachino Nest Whisky

  • Flavor Notes: Vanilla tones and hints of burnt wood, orange peel and cardamom
  • Nose: Fruity
  • ABV: 43%
  • Finish: Smooth

Kiuchi no Shizuku Hitachino Nest Whisky is a phenomenal Japanese whiskey that can be enjoyed at a fraction of the cost, at just under $50. 

Distilled from a blend of malted barley and smoked wheat, this whiskey stands apart from its counterparts with its unique blend of flavors. 

The whiskey is infused with orange peel and cardamom, giving it a refreshing and flavorful edge. 

The notes of wood and spice follow suit with a subtle, yet unmistakable presence, nicely complemented by the vanilla tones and hints of burnt wood that linger beyond the aroma. 

Notes and flavors of orange peel, cardamom, and wood all come together to create a truly unique and enjoyable flavor. 

Kiuchi no Shizuku Hitachino Nest Whisky is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. While it is especially enjoyable neat or on the rocks, the whiskey also does well when mixed with other ingredients to form a delicious cocktail. 

From Whiskey Sours to Old Fashioneds, this whiskey will bring out notes of orange peel and cardamom that will liven up any recipe. The wood and spice in the whiskey give it a depth of flavor that stands out in any type of drink.

Despite its low cost, Kiuchi no Shizuku Hitachino Nest Whisky stands up to the test. The flavor is balanced and nuanced, not overpowering but enough to be noticed. 

There is a smoothness to the whiskey that makes it enjoyable to sip on its own or when combined with other ingredients. 

The flavors of orange peel and cardamom blend perfectly to give delightful hints of spice and sweetness. There is a complexity to the whiskey, making it easily drinkable both on its own and when used in cocktails.

Kiuchi no Shizuku Hitachino Nest Whisky is a perfect choice for anyone looking for quality Japanese whiskey without breaking their budget.

The whiskey has a depth of flavor that can go toe-to-toe with more expensive options, making it an unbeatable bargain. The finish is smooth and flavorful, leaving you wanting more with every sip. This is a whiskey you’ll want to keep in your collection!

Nikka Days Blended Whisky

  • Flavor Notes: fruity flavors
  • Nose: floral aromas
  • ABV: 40%
  • Finish: Smooth and silky

When it comes to finding the best Japanese whiskey for under $50, one can’t help but be impressed by the Nikka Days Blended Whisky. 

With a great option for both beginners and experienced drinkers, it has an easy-drinking profile without compromising on distinction and complexity. 

The floral aromas fill the room with a pleasant aroma, while the silky mouthfeel promises an exquisite tasting experience. Vibrant and fruity flavors that rise and expand in the palate make the Nikka Days Blended Whisky an amazing whiskey. 

It is composed of toffee and sweet spices that provide a sweet and rich experience. On the palate, one is met with smooth and creamy sweetness, and a hint of smoke, offering a delicious balance between the two. 

Nikka Days Blended Whisky is an incredibly approachable spirit and it is recommended for those who are looking for a highball or to use in a mixed cocktail. 

Not only does the smoothness of the whisky make it an ideal choice for those just getting into drinking whisky, but it also provides a rich and sweet-bodied whisky experience. 

When it comes to finding the best Japanese whiskey for under $50, one can’t help but be impressed by the Nikka Days Blended Whisky. 

With a great option for both beginners and experienced drinkers, it has an easy-drinking profile without compromising on distinction and complexity. 

The floral aromas fill the room with a pleasant aroma, while the silky mouthfeel promises an exquisite tasting experience. Vibrant and fruity flavors that rise and expand in the palate make the Nikka Days Blended Whisky an amazing whiskey. 

It is composed of toffee and sweet spices that provide a sweet and rich experience. On the palate, one is met with smooth and creamy sweetness, and a hint of smoke, offering a delicious balance between the two. 

Nikka Days Blended Whisky is an incredibly approachable spirit and it is recommended for those who are looking for a highball or to use in a mixed cocktail. 

Not only does the smoothness of the whisky make it an ideal choice for those just getting into drinking whisky, but it also provides a rich and sweet-bodied whisky experience. 

Matsui Shuzo Blended Japanese Whisky

  • Flavor Notes: apple and apricot with a lingering hint of black pepper and oak
  • Nose: Delicate malted grain sweetness, red apple, and cacao
  • ABV: 48%
  • Finish: Savory

Matsui Shuzo Blended Japanese Whisky is a delightful option for anyone looking for a great tasting, affordable Japanese whisky. 

Aged in a variety of re-used white oak casks, this superb blend offers a unique and complex flavor that’s sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more. 

The aromas of delicate malted grain sweetness, red apple, and cacao are immediately captivating and enticing. 

When it comes to the palate, big notes of red fruit, apple, and apricot tantalize your taste buds in perfect harmony. 

With a lingering hint of black pepper and oak, you’re left feeling wonderfully satisfied. It’s an especially pleasing option for those rare nights when you’re looking to snag something special but don’t want to break the bank; this bottle comes in at a very agreeable price of under fifty dollars. 

While Japan is known for its vast array of premium, high-priced whiskies, it’s especially exciting to find one of such impressive quality at such an affordable price. 

Packed with a variety of fruits, grains, and spicy oak, it’s a wonderful whisky for any casual gathering, or for those quiet nights when you want to treat yourself to something special. 

There’s enough complexity in this bottle to keep even a whisky connoisseur entertained, yet still accessible enough for an everyday drinker. 

If you’re looking for an exquisite Japanese whisky under fifty dollars, then look no further than Matsui Shuzo Blended Japanese Whisky. 

With its unique blending process, tantalizing aromas, and rich flavor, it’s sure to make the perfect addition to any evening, whether you’re looking to impress a special someone or simply enjoy your own company. 

There’s no denying the complexity and balance of this bottle, and it promises to be an unforgettable experience every time.

Mars Shinshu Iwai 45

Best Japanese Whiskey Under $50

Mars Shinshu Iwai 45 is made from mash bill that mostly consists of corn along with rye and malted barley. With aromas of vanilla and baking spices, it has flavors of quince and pear notes. It is a great drink for the summer season and also a great Japanese whiskey to make cocktails as it has 45% alcohol level. 

Tasting Notes: 

  • Aroma: Butterscotch, vanilla, strawberry, and stewed apple
  • Flavor: Sweet with hints of pears, quince, toffee, and milk chocolate
  • Finish: Lingering sweetness 

Suntory Toki

Best Japanese Whiskey for Highball

Suntory Toki is a blend of Suntory’s best whiskies from Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita. It has notes of almost, pink grapefruit, and with a light vanilla finish. It is the best Japanese whiskey for a delicious highball. All you have to do is add some sparkling water and lemon!

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Tasting Notes: 

  • Aroma: Hints Orchard fruits, thyme honey, and peppermint
  • Flavor: Bright citrus notes due to the pink grapefruit, toasted almost, bitter herbs, and lingering vanilla oak
  • Finish: Hints of white pepper and ginger 

Akashi White Oak

Best No-Age-Statement Japanese Whiskey

Akashi white oak is one of the top Japanese whiskey brands and is loved by most whiskey fans. It is a blended whiskey that is aged in several cask types – bourbon, sherry, and shochu. It has complex flavors which will give you a bit of everything. If you’re a scotch lover then the Akashi White Oak japanese whiskey is a good choice. It’s rich with American oak notes and smokey peak undertones. 

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Tasting Notes: 

  • Aroma: Citrusy, malty, black cherry, oak, toffee
  • Flavor: Pine nuts and vanilla
  • Finish: Malty, long finish

Yamazaki 12 Year Old

Best Overall Japanese Whiskey 

Suntory whisky is widely popular not only in Japan but all over the world. And Yamazaki 12 year old could be considered Suntory’s signature bottle as it is known as one of the best Japanese whisky. It is a fruity and floral single malt that will remind you of a good scotch but it has a style of its own. If you’re just starting to explore Japanese whiskey, Yamazaki whisky is a good choice to start with. 

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Tasting Notes:

  • Aroma: Floral character, tropical fruity and rooty notes, nut oils and zest 
  • Flavor: Smooth and soft. Hints of sweet notes and winter spice. A slight citrus flavor along with fruity notes and rum also develops 
  • Finish: Medium with zest and fruit 

Nikka Coffey Grain

Best Japanese Whiskey Under $100

Nikka is another one of the best Japanese whiskey brands that is popular all over the world. Nikka is a major producer of whiskey in Japan. Coffey Grain by Nikka is named after Aeneas Coffee, who invented the continuous still. Unlike other single malts made from barley, this is made mostly from corn which gives it a delicious creamy texture and sweetness. If you’re a bourbon fan, you’ll love this Japanese whiskey by Nikka. 

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Tasting Notes:

  • Aroma: Vanilla and corn notes like bourbon; hint of chamomile
  • Flavor: Fruity and sweet flavor of grapefruit, melon and thick syrup 
  • Finish: Sweet and vibrant   

Hakushu 12 Year Old

Best Japanese Single Malt

Produced in Japanese Alps, Hakushu whisky is just as amazing as the alps. This 12 year old bottle is one of the best Japanese whiskey by Hakushu. It has a herbaceous and woodsy aroma that develops into giving you fruity notes with a light peat quality.

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The distillery is located in the mountains deep in the forest where the water for this whisky is also sourced from. This makes it great for a peated whisky!

Tasting Notes: 

  • Aroma: Almonds, toasted barley, nut loaf and seed, barrel char along with sweetness brought by milk chocolate and dried grass 
  • Flavor:  Fruity palate but not sweet. Herbaceous, rich and grassy
  • Finish: Doesn’t linger, orange peel and minerals 

Hibiki 17 Year Old

Best Japanese Age Statement Blend Whiskey

Here’s another whiskey from one of the best Japanese whiskey brands, Suntory. Hibiki range of whiskey is a perfectly blended single malt whiskey that any whiskey lover would enjoy. It’s a blend of malt and grain whiskies aged for almost twenty years. It has a silky smooth feel and a heavy fruity taste. While it’s the best choice to have it neat, it is also a good choice for cocktails!

Tasting Notes:

  • Aroma: Notes of honey and wax, oak and resin along with notes of cacao and gentle smoke. Nutty note and hints of cooked fruits
  • Flavor: Rich and sweet. Notes of custard, raisin, mixed peels, little zest and oak 
  • Finish: Lingering with notes of cocoa and oak, and sherried peels 

Nikka Yoichi

Best Japanese Peated Whiskey

Nikka’s Yoichi Single Malt is one of the best Japanese whiskies and is quite smokey. With a good dose of smoke, it also has caramel and tropical fruit flavors. In terms of peat, this is one Japanese whiskey that, I can say, comes close to Islay scotch. You can have it neat or serve it as a highball mixed with soda and ice!

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Tasting Notes:

  • Aroma: Peat smoke, dried citrus zest
  • Flavor: Smoke, almonds, melon, slightly salty
  • Finish: Smooth, herbal, lingering 

Ohishi 8 Year Old

Best Sherry Cask Japanese Whiskey

Here’s another one of the best Japanese whisky brands for you. This one hails from the Kumamoto prefecture in Japan. This is a rice whiskey which tastes absolutely amazing and is very different from American whiskies.

With aromas of roasted nuts, sherry oak, dried fruits, spice, and mushroom, you can taste flavors of cocoa, dark fruits, tobacco, and sweet sherry wood. It’s absolutely delicious and pairs well with food. The best food to eat with Ohishi 8 year old is cracked black pepper crusted steak with sauteed and shiitake mushrooms in toasted sesame oil. YUM!

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: Notes of citrus, oak, dried dark fruits, and ash

Flavor: Dried dark fruits, sherry, notes of citrus, oily nuts, and vanilla 

Finish: Cocoa, dark fruits, sherry, and spice 

Shinju Whisky

Best Japanese Whiskey For Cocktails

The next of the best Japanese whiskey brands on this list is Shinju whiskey, for which the water is sourced from the slopes of Mt Fuji. Scents of orange blossoms and sweet honey will grace your nose with a finish of oak. It feels smooth and has a soft texture with a dark toffee color. Matured in white oak barrels for 2-4 years, it’s the perfect whiskey for cocktails!

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Tasting Notes: 

Aroma: Notes of orange, vanilla, and honey

Flavor: Light oak and herbaceous notes

How do you enjoy Japanese whisky?

There are different ways you can enjoy a Japanese whiskey. You can enjoy it as a highball to bring out the flavors of the whiskey. If you want to savor your Japanese whiskey and enjoy its aroma then it’s best to have it neat. You can also enjoy a Japanese whiskey on the rocks like many whiskey lovers do.  

Is Japanese whisky better than Scotch?

When compared to scotch whiskey, Japanese whiskey is less peated this is because Scottish distilleries are located in coastal areas and islands where during the malting phase peat is popularly used for drying barley. Japanese distilleries, on the other hand, use much less peat. When it come to taste, Japanese whiskey has some links to Scotch whisky and some of Japanese whiskey bottles can be earthy, peaty, and brooding as single malts – like the Nikka Yoichi Japanese whiskey. But you’ll also find other Japanese whiskey that is more subdued and restrained like a highland scotch.

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