Japanese whiskey… What is it?
If you love to pay a visit to the fashionable restaurants and Japanese restaurants, you probably already accustomed to these sometimes slender and cheerful-awesome, sometimes out of tune-lazy welcome cries «Iracema-Ah-Ah-Ah!!!», published by the staff every time the door, there is a new visitor.
Especially touching when this battle cry not make a miniature Japanese, and good blond and blue-eyed guys, which is evident in Moscow and St. Petersburg Japanese restaurants function daredevils.
But it is unlikely that you expect to hear that kind of cry… in the whiskey bar. And for good reason — in Japan, the intimate silence of bars specializing in whiskey Creek «Irasema!» breaks whenever a new client.
The Japanese love whiskey and in terms of per capita drink this drink more than Americans and British. However, the overall level of alcohol consumption in Japan in the world is not so great.
By the way, the Japanese drink whiskey more than his sake, as strange as it may seem. But here’s the thing: Mexican restaurants has done a lot to popularize tequila; Japanese — for promotion sake, but no Japanese whisky. For Russia, the Japanese whiskey — exotic. On the shelves of our stores you can find only a few brands of Japanese whiskey: single pure malt (blended malt whisky) and one blended. And it costs us very expensive — probably to drive far… And at home a large part of the cheap whiskey from 890 to 3500 yen ($8-30) per bottle. We have 5— 7 times more. The quirks of Russian pricing? No, rather the reason is the old Russian truth: beyond the sea heifer mite, Yes ruble transportation. And shipping appointed by the carrier.
I have, incidentally, about Japanese whisky from my childhood fond memories. When I was little, I used to steal dad from the locker drinks — just poured himself a glass, and the bottle was refilled to the level, or water, or tea. So, my first whiskey in my life (and generally the first alcohol) was Suntory. When I was 12 years old.
There is no need to describe Japan, a country where wonderfully mixed sacredly cherished and honored tradition, stretching back to a long history,and the most advanced and modern that exists in the world. Europeans still do not fully understand.
Japan was one of the last great cultures on our planet, open to foreign influence. Although contacts between Europeans and Japanese since the fourteenth century there were many-
tion, but what can be called open «collaboration» between two cultures, began in 1853 with the signing of the Treaty of friendship and trade between the U.S. and Japan.
Soon in Japan, the foundations were laid for the production of whiskey.
Or rather, as it was in Scotland and Ireland, but first learned to make beer on a Western model. With the brewing and, respectively, with barley, the main ingredient of whiskey, the Japanese introduced the Dutch and Germans in the XVIII century. In 1869, the Americans built Japan’s first brewery, which after a while became a global alcoholic giant Kirin.
The Japanese came to study Western culture and technology with public positions — they sent for the state account researchers in Germany to study the peculiarities of the technology of beer production. At about this time began to grow barley — the unconventional Japan cereal culture for beer production. Soon barley and barley malt grown and produced in sufficient quantity to start a production of whiskey.
It should be noted that Japanese beer, as well as in all countries that produce normal beer is made from barley malt, but only with the addition of rice, but not 100% rice, as many features, however, is the main ingredient of many European (but not German, Czech and English varieties), Russian, and especially the so-called «American Beers».
In 1917 the head of the company Settsu Shuzo conducted the selection of potential staff at the University of Osaka, found a young man named Matsuka Takatsu-ru. He was 23 years old, and he came from a family which for several generations had made sake, rice Braga. Not having finished University (he was studying in the final year) at the whim of a new employer, Matsuka-San travels to Scotland to learn to make real whiskey. For two years he studied at Glasgow University studying chemistry, and for a time worked at the Hazelburn distillery in Campbell town and Longmorn in Speyside. By the way, the Longmorn distillery, whose product is part of the Chivas Regal blend, is still in effect today, and from Hazelburn were only the same kind of single malt whiskey that is produced at the only surviving in the region of the distillery Spring bank.
During his stay in Scotland Matsuka-San rented a room from a local doctor and, as often happens with strangers, fell in love with the aboriginal one of the daughters of the doctor. She moved with her beloved Japanese in its historic homeland, where she helped her husband to found the production of whiskey in Scottish style.
Scientist Matsuka-San took part in the Foundation of two of the largest Japanese manufactures of whiskey — in the 20-ies of the last century he built a distillery for the company in the city of Suntory Yamazaki, and in the 30’s in the city of Joy Chi for the company Nikka. To be precise, Matsuka-San built the Yamazaki distillery in 1923 and the first whiskey produced here, that is generally the first Japanese whiskey, entered 1929. This whiskey was called «Suntory Shirofuda», and this brand is now known as the «Suntory» or «White label».
On your feet» industry a Japanese whisky «stood up» only after the Second world war. And to the 60-th years of the last century, Japanese whisky has become fashionable in Europe and America.
As noted by Michael Jackson, author of the book «The World Guide The Whisky», during his visit to Japan managing one of the distilleries, pointing to the pagoda is typical of the Scottish distilleries, but it is much more typical for Japanese architecture, as if apologizing, said, «Look, we have pagoda — just like in Scotland». In fact, the landscape of many of the Japanese Islands is remarkably similar to Scottish. To the extent that one of the advertising models Nikka whisky, which depicts a snow-covered distillery and a few barrels, it is written: «No, it’s not Scotland. Joy, Chi, Hokkaido, Japan. A place where doing an outstanding whiskey.»
I had to hear unflattering, and it is unclear on what basis the reviews about the Japanese temple, saying that they are made from rice, and generally so-so… Japanese whiskey is the closest to Scotch in style (of course, and technology — the Japanese in Scotland even peat purchase!) from what is happening in the world. Almost all local blended brands contain a greater or smaller percentage of malt Scotch whiskey. Japanese companies own a large and reputable Scottish distillery: Tomatin, Bow-more, Ben Nevis, and several others. So they didn’t even have to buy it — he just owns them, it only need to move from Scotland to Japan. According to British magazine Whisky Magazine (the largest authority in the field of whiskey), such Japanese samples as Nikka Single Cask 10 years old and Suntory Hibiki 21, are among the best examples of whisky around the world.
The first difference from the Japanese Scotch whiskey, which catches the eye, or rather in the nose» is that it is less smoky and peaty than its Scottish ancestor. It is believed that the Japanese do not really like strong smells. So whiskey, they almost never drink in pure form and diluted with water: one part whiskey, from four to ten parts water! Production technology is the same as in Scotland, but she’s super cool and precision. The Japanese still…
All major Japanese companies have as a traditional malt distillery, and the production of grain whiskey. Like the Scots, the Japanese kept his whiskey in barrels of sherry or Bourbon, but, unlike the Scots, and sometimes use new casks of Japanese oak. As in Scotland, the whiskey has to live in barrels for at least 3 years. However, still no Japanese whisky over 20 years old, whereas in Scotland there are many.
As in Scotland, most of the whiskey produced (over 90%) blends. The content of malt whiskey blended 40% — a premium whiskey to 10% in economic blend. Only in Japan three categories: blended whiskey: blended category Special (it’s a word used on the label) should be at least 30% malt whiskey, the first category — not less than 20% and the second not less than 10% of malt whiskies. In good samples of Japanese whisky up to 15% of Scottish malt whisky. We have already said that whiskey in Japan is not so expensive — a bottle of good 12 year old malt whisky Suntory Pure Malt in a supermarket costs only $15 for a 0.7 l. It is at Japanese prices, where the restaurant cheeseburger can cost $20!
In Japan, four large producers of whiskey and about 20 small, virtually unknown abroad. The approximate percentage among them about 70% of all whisky in Japan, Suntory produces 15% — Nikka and about 5% in Sanraku Ocean and Kirin-Seagram. The remaining 5 percent have 20 small companies.
Another difference between Japanese whisky and Scotch in the blend is usually far less components in them and distilleries is much less than in Scotland, and a selection of imported Scottish components is not as wide. Therefore, in the figurative expression of Michael Jackson: «if the Scottish master blender orchestrates Beethoven, the master blender takes the string Quartet Vivaldi». «