In terms of production scale and reach, Suntory reigns supreme both domestically and globally, closely followed by Nikka. However, there are other, smaller producers with huge fan bases, wonderful products, and impressive award portfolios operating in the land of the rising sun. Large and small, here are the more established Japanese producers you should look out for.
Suntory – Yamazaki, Hakushu, & Chita
These distilleries are all owned by Suntory, and each was created to expand the range of flavours in Suntory’s whiskies. For this reason, each distillery was built in areas with different humidity level and altitudes, which are both factors that greatly affect the maturation, and so, final flavour profile of a whisky.
The Yamazaki distillery is located just outside Kyoto and is Japan’s most popular distillery. Its expressions are also the most awarded worldwide. Hakushu, also known as the forest distillery, creates smokier, more floral whiskies, while the Chita distillery is the company’s dedicated grain whisky distillery, creating grain whiskies that are either bottled or used in Suntory’s blended whiskies.
The famed Hibiki whisky range is created from spirit from all three sites.
For a perfect entry into Suntory’s wonderful whisky range we recommend you try:
- Yamazaki Single Malt 12-Year-Old
- Hibiki Harmony
- Hakushu Single Malt
Nikka – Yoichi & Miyagikyo
Nikka has two active whisky making plants, the Yoichi and the Miyagikyo distilleries.