When you think of the biggest and most prominent distillers and producers of whisky in the world you think of Ireland, Scotland, The U.S. and even Canada might come to mind. But Japan? Japan doesn’t seem like it would be up there with the kingpins of whiskey production. They’re just known for sake, right? Not so fast ladies and gents. The rise of Japanese Whisky is currently upon us. Japanese Whisky is enjoying a huge boom in popularity and accolades.
Japanese Whisky breaks down into two main categories. Single malt whisky and Blended whisky. Single malt whisky is essentially Japanese Scotch. Which, if you’ve read our Scottish Whisky article, you know that means it is made from malted barley. Blended is just as the name suggests, a blend of different Japanese whiskies to create a unique expression.
Odds are, if you’ve taken a gander down the isles of your local liquor establishment in the past couple years, you’ve probably seen at least one of the bottles pictured above. And if you went to look for them right now, you probably wouldn’t spot them again. This is an unfortunate result of the awards and accolades Japanese Whisky has been accumulating over the past decade or so. But fear not! With every grey cloud there is a silver lining. Japanese Whisky companies have reacted accordingly to their gain in popularity. From 2010 to 2019 the import rate of Japanese Whisky increased 50 fold! Starting out at $1,000,000 and ending up at $50,000,000 of imported whiskey.
This means a few things for the average whiskey lover:
- The rise of Japanese Whisky and its popularity gives us more products to enjoy.
- That very same increase in popularity also creates a more competitive demand market and might make certain bottles harder to come by.
- We might see a price hike on the more common pours until supply meets the boom in demand we are currently experiencing. This should even out when supply matches demand in the future though.
In 2020 alone, Japan’s whisky revenue was 650 million dollars! This is a staggering total for a relatively new market. We expect it to more than double in the next five years. Whiskey as a whole is in a second renaissance. Seeing booms worldwide and a desperate scrambling to keep up with demand for this aged spirit. Only time will tell what the future of whiskey has in store for us. But, one thing we do know is that future will be amber colored and delicious.
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Orion has been friends with Greg since their high school days.
His love for whiskey grew as he tried different pours Greg was reviewing for Whiskey Culture. And, when Whiskey Culture began traveling around the country, he went with them to document their whiskey expeditions.
Orion now works full-time for Whiskey Culture managing our production schedule and ensuring the quality of our content. He oversees our contributor program, and can be found alongside Greg during their trips to Kentucky either behind the camera, or behind a glass of fine whiskey after a long day of shooting footage.