Strathisla Dark Room Casks

SCOTCH AND JAPANESE WHISKY: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?

DON’T KNOW YOUR YAMAZAKI FROM YOUR SCOTCH? RELAX.

HERE’S EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO SOUND SMART ENOUGH TO IMPRESS EVEN THE BIGGEST WHISKY AFICIONADOS.

Let’s set the record straight. If you were wondering, ‘is Japanese whisky Scotch?’, the answer is no. While the principles and production process behind blending Scotch and Japanese whisky are nearly the same, by law Scotch whisky must be distilled and matured in Scotland.

 

The same is not true of Japanese whisky, in that Japanese whisky doesn’t actually need to be Japanese by law. In fact, many distilleries in Japan use Scotch whisky in the whisky-making process.

One of the key differences in taste between Scottish and Japanese whisky is that Japanese whisky tends to be less peated. In Scotland, where distilleries are mostly located on islands and in coastal areas, peat is naturally used for drying the barley during the malting phase. Whilst Japanese producers do also use peated barley, they do so in much smaller quantities due to many of the distilleries being at high altitudes.   This high altitude also affects the whisky taste. The distilling process is undertaken at a lower pressure and can create a lighter tasting whisky when compared to a traditional rich Scotch.
Whisky Making Mashing Process

Is Japanese whisky similar to Scotch?

Like most things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – or the holder of the glass of whisky in this case. Japanese whisky can certainly be more expensive, which is down to some Japanese producers using a rare Japanese oak tree called Mizurana to mature their whisky, while Scottish distilleries tend to use ex-bourbon or sherry barrels.

 

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of Japanese whisky, Chivas Mizunara is the world’s first blended Scotch whisky to be selectively finished in Japanese Mizunara oak casks*. Offering a truly unique and flavourful Japanese whisky taste – full of spicy and floral notes added by the Mizunara casks – it’s the perfect marriage of Scotch craft and Japanese tradition.

A portion of this blended Scotch whisky has been finished in Japanese Mizunara oak casks.

 

*A portion of this blended Scotch whisky has been finished in Japanese Mizunara oak casks.

Bourbon tends to be much sweeter than Scotch or Japanese whisky as it uses a corn base, and on the whole is described as vanilla, toffee and cinnamon tasting in character. To supplement the corn, American distilleries use wheat to add a nutty character, or rye to add a drier, spicier pepper flavour.   In the same way, Scotch whisky making can only be distilled and matured in Scotland, bourbon by law has to originate from America. It was first distilled by farmers in Maryland and Pennsylvania as a way to use excess crops, namely corn, and the area is still referred to as ‘Old Bourbon’ to this day.   Whether you like your drinks a bit peaty, nutty or spicy, the world of whisky is always evolving and refining! For now, you’re ready to impress everyone with your knowledge of whisky – just make sure to have a glass of Chivas in hand while you’re at it.
Whisky tasting