“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whisk(e)y is barely enough.”
Mark Twain
The opening of Cavavin’s flagship store in Limerick has seen the arrival of some of the most sought after Japanese whisky brands. Cavavin Ireland is delighted to welcome an ample supply of the following brands:
Nikka Yoichi, The Matsui, Akashi, Suntory, Tagouchi, Nikka, The Tottori, Fuji
In the last five years, Japanese whiskies have become incredibly popular with international demand outstripping supply, so Cavavin Ireland, is delighted to bring such a popular range to you.
Japanese whiskies are crafted in the Scottish style. The style is delicate and perfumed with honeyed sweetness. They are regularly described as being smooth, but that is doing them an injustice. Light sherry and floral notes, sometimes they have been peated for a smoky, quasi-Islay style. Japan's burgeoning whisky industry has been largely attributed to its two founding fathers: Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru. Shinjiro established the Suntory brand, founding the first distillery, Yamazaki,  in 1923,  in the Vale of Yamazaki. Taketsuru founded Yoichi in Hokkaido eleven years later. Today, Japanese whiskies are becoming increasingly popular and have styles of their own. They are a relatively new addition to the world of whisky, but have quickly become a favourite among connoisseurs. While Japanese whisky is not as widely available as other types of whisk(e)y, it’s fast becoming more popular all over the world. If you're looking to try something new, Japanese whisky is a great option. It’s made in a variety of locations across the country, each with its own climate and water source. This gives its unique flavour profile.
Today, the following brands are fast becoming the most popular and Cavavin Ireland is delighted to bring you the following finest examples of each:
Voted the best overall [Japanese] whisky of 2023 - Suntory’s Yamazaki 12-Year-Old could be considered the core expression of the brand’s single malt lineup (including the Hakushu range). It is probably the best-known Suntory whisky and was once pretty easy to find. “This is a floral and fruity single malt reminiscent of Scotch whisky, but in a style that is very much its own. It’s aged in a combination of cask types, resulting in a fruity, spicy, and oaky single malt whisky that is best sipped on its own. All in all, it's an excellent starting point for those wishing to explore the category of Japanese whisky.”
Voted the best peated [Japanese] whisky of 2023 - “This No Age Statement (NAS) whisky has ample smoke, but it’s balanced out by tropical fruit and caramel flavours on the palate. Sip this neat, or mix it with soda and ice for an intensely flavoured highball.”
When shopping for a Japanese whisky at Cavavin Ireland, be sure to look out for the following -  its colour, how it's aged, and the grains used in the process. All of these factors will give some clues about the taste and the price, too. Of course, you can always ask our bubbly and very knowledgeable staff in-store or contact us info@cavavin.ie for more advice.
Typically, Japanese whisky can be lighter in colour, than other whisk(e)ys you may have encountered before, such as Scotch whisky. It ranges from a pale gold, almost straw-like colour, to a rich amber.
Most Japanese whiskies are aged in wood casks. Some of them have had bourbon, or at times, they use sherry casks. Other times they have been aged in Mizunara oak, which imparts something of a sandalwood flavour. Mizunara, is native to Japan and, therefore, can contribute more complexity and unique flavours to the Japanese whisky, too.
Japanese whisky is made from malted barley, which can be peated, borrowing some techniques used in Scottish whisky. This can lend a smoky taste with a lighter flavour profile. Some Japanese whisky is made from rice or corn; sometimes it can be a blend of malted barley, rice, and/or corn, depending on the preference of the distillery.
To finish, here are a couple of FAQ’s that may help in choosing your inaugural Japanese whisky or the next one to add to your collection or the gift for that whisky connoisseur in your life.
1.     How is it different from other types of whisky?
Recently, regulations have been put into place which should become law over the next few years to properly define Japanese whisky. As it stands now, some bottles include whisky imported from other countries into the blend, but these are starting to be labelled as world whiskies. Overall, the style of Japanese whisky runs the gamut, from peated to sherry cask-influenced, to light and floral.
2.     Can you mix it into a cocktail?
You can definitely use Japanese whisky in cocktails. In fact, the Japanese highball is a simple drink that is very popular in Japan, a combination of whisky, soda water, and a slice of lemon or citrus peel. Depending on the bottle, you can also use Japanese whisky in classic whisky cocktails, such as the old-fashioned or Manhattan. Of course, try these whiskies on their own, too, to truly get familiar with their character.
October 05, 2023 — Louise O'Brien