With less than a century old, the world of Japanese whiskies is growing day by day and becoming even more recognized by its quality and incredible selection. Only five years ago, the famous Jim Murray named a Japanese single malt, the best whisky in the world.
Unfortunately, most of the good Japanese whiskies come with a price tag. If you are looking to discover this incredible category without a massive investment, in this article, we will give you a list of the best Japanese whiskies under $60.
Perfect as a gift or for your own consumption, you will definitely find this list one to keep.
Mars Shinshu Iwai Japanese Whisky
In 1949, the Mars family founded the distillery, known nowadays as Japan’s highest-altitude distillery. It is located at 798 meters, nestled between Japan’s Southern and Central Alps. This beautiful blend is ages in bourbon barrels and made primarily of corn and a bit of malted barley, giving it delicate notes of apple butter, ginger and rooibos.
The name of this whisky follows the famous Kiichiro Iwai, known as “The Silent Pioneer of Japan Whisky”, and the former mentor of Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Suntory and Nikka.
Once you pour this whiskey, you will feel immediately the smell of sherried notes, peat and malt. Once you take the first sip, you will feel a sense of pepper and spice with flavours of ripe cherry, honey and toffee with a beautiful ginger spice.
The finish note will feel long, crispy and rounded.
Suntory Toki Blended Whisky
Even for the non-whisky fans, everyone knows the Suntory Company for its whisky pioneering. In 2013, the company became even more famous due to the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask, which was named the worlds best whisky. Its more budget-friendly option, Toki is the perfect introduction to its collection. The name Toki means “time” in Japanese and should be enjoyed on its own with time for tasting.
Toki is compromised of both single malts (Hakashu) and single grains (Chita) giving unique notes of green apple and grapefruit followed by thyme and mint. It is blended from Suntory’s three distilleries: Yamazaki, Hakashu and Chita.
Because it is light bodied, it is easy to enjoy so why not invest in two bottles to make sure you do not run out of it!
On the nose, you will feel hints of soft orchard fruits and thyme honey. Once you take the first sip you will feel the green apple leading to bright citrus notes from pink grapefruit. You might also feel some bitter herbs, toasted almonds and vanilla oak. The end is soft but mouthful with notes of white pepper and ginger with an added spice.
White Oak Distillery Akashi Whisky
In 1919, White Oak licensed its distillery. This was the first licensed distillery to produce whisky in Japan, four years before Suntory. This is an entre level to its portfolio of whiskies, offering 70 percent of corn grain and 30 percent of malted barley. Because it is aged in used bourbon barrels for at least three years and finished in sherry casks, it has a bourbon-like sweetness. The first impression of the whisky will follow with a more savoury note of sherry, ending with a hint of peat.
This is an excellent starting point for those you are looking to discover the world of Japanese whiskies.
On the nose, this whisky offers some incredible sweet notes of chocolate peanuts, lemongrass and buttered hot cross buns. Once you take the first sip, the savoury notes appear with its cherry bakewells and walnut loaf. Notes of sweet cereals with a dusting of nutmeg and black pepper will create the perfect blend. This will end with a medium length but still sweet of dried apricots and a touch of oatcake.
Kikori Japanese Whiskey
You might have noticed that this whisky is spelled as “whiskey” and not like the others. This is because of its origins.
This incredible Kikori whisky is distilled from aromatic rice and aged in a combination of American, French and Spanish oaks. Afterwards it is blended with local purified volcanic spring water. You might find this process similar to distilled sake but it is not. Its delicate notes of cherry blossom, matcha and white chocolate will make you fall in love immediately.
The smell will give you some incredible floral notes followed by a caramel, tree fruits and vanilla. Once you take the first sip, you will feel the freshness of melon with a velvety feel followed by notes of toasted almonds, tart apple, oak and sherry. The finish note is clean and bright offering a desire for more.