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Get in, Flaviarista, we’re heading East. Again
Scotland and Kentucky are great, right, but sometimes one has to venture far up East to find some truly exciting Whisky stuff. And while Japan may have already made its name in the Whisky world – and what a name it is – Australia and Taiwan are right behind as the next Whisky powerhouses, headed for an iconic status in the global Spirits game. In Asia & Oceania Vol. 4, you get to meet the hottest Single Malts from the other side of the Whisky globe.
Starting with the gorgeous and harmonious Mars Shinshu Iwai Tradition Whisky from Japan’s highest Whisky distillery, this complex blended Whisky was aged in a trifecta of casks: ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry, and ex-Wine. The distillery is owned by an old Japanese family of brewers that have been distilling Spirits for over a century.
Taiwan might be among the youngest Whisky makers, but the favorable climate that enables speedy aging and their masterful finishing skills have got other distilling nations seriously shaking at the knees. Take Omar Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky from the Nantou Distillery, a bold subtropical wonder of a Whisky with a unique and elegant Sherry finish that you just can’t find anywhere else.
Coming from down under, Australia’s Starward Two-Fold is a two-grain Whisky that was aged in casks that previously held Australian red Wine for about two years thanks to the climate’s speedy aging in "Melbourne years." The result is an attention-grabbing Single Malt with a luxurious mouthfeel, full of juicy fruit and old wood notes.
One thing is clear: If you want to be ahead – or at least on top – of the Whisky game, you better know your Eastern delights.
1) Tasmania is the epicenter of the Australian Whisky production with more than fifty percent of all Aussie distilleries presiding there. They reportedly have the cleanest air in the world, which probably doesn’t hurt.
2) Shorthand for Japanese craft Whisky is "Ji-Whisky," which appropriately sounds like "gee wizz," since most of the Whiskies coming from the Land of the Rising Sun are pure poetry.
3) Taiwan is quite new at making Whisky but since the Scottish firm Forsyth’s built Kavalan Whisky Distillery in Yilan in 2006, they are unstoppable. The Taiwanese aren’t afraid to experiment with wild combinations of fruit-centered Spirits and various cask types. The biggest challenges the producers in Taiwan face is figuring out the right method to suit the hot climate, which causes Whisky to age faster, and a huge share the angels take.
4) While WWII was a horrible time for the world as a whole, Japanese Whisky sales boomed during that time. Sales reports from Suntory and Nikka show a huge boost in domestic consumption during the war, as both companies supplied Whisky directly to the army and Japanese forces.
5) There’s no legal framework for Whisky production, labelling and promotion in Japan. That’s why the Togouchi Whisky can be made in Canada and Scotland, and still be called Japanese Whisky - after all the import duties are paid in Japan, of course.
6) Although Australians have been distilling Whiskey since the mid-19th century, the modern industry really got its start in the mid-1990s when a land surveyor named Bill Lark successfully lobbied against a law that banned microdistilleries.
7) One of the tricks responsible for the Australian Whisky to taste so good is rejuvenation of barrels. The coopers carefully pick old oak cask staves from Australian producers, shave them down and build new barrels from them. Distilleries across the Land Down Under purchase those casks and mature their new Whiskies in them.
An un-aged American Whisky is often called “white dog.”