Tag Archives: Japanese Whisky

On the Rocks – 3 Blended Malts for your Bar – Anand Chintamani

[vc_column width=”1/1″]With the launch of Monkey Shoulder in India by William Grant & Sons, the topic of Blended malts is back on the table. Vatted Malts, or Blended Malts as they are officially now known, are made only from Single Malts. So, no grain whisky, only malt whisky, and they needn’t be from a single distillery makes it a Vatted malt.

The Monkey Shoulder derives its name from the curious way the arms and shoulders of the malters from yonder years use to droop – akin to shoulder of a monkey and thus the name.

Name and bottling apart, and the bottle is a collectors item with its metal embellished minimalistic finish, Monkey Shoulder is a fine blend of 3 Speyside malts. William Grant & Sons that owns both the legendary Glenfiddich & the superior Balvenie brands doesn’t shed much light on the source of these whiskies but lets the spirit do the talking.

The Monkey Shoulder with it’s distinctive yet characteristic Speyside nose and taste is a must in one’s bar.

Monkey Shoulder
Monkey Shoulder

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]But since the purists want more, may I suggest you seat the Monkey Shoulder with the Nikka Pure Malt. From the house of Nikka come the Red, White & Black Pure Malts with spirits from the 2 distilleries they own in Japan the Yoichi & the Miyagikyo. Nikka whiskies are made Scotch style – the founder Masataka Taketsuru came to Scotland to pursue education and found his calling in whisky world instead and thus imported his knowledge & experience to found Nikka .

Nikka Black is a highly rated whisky and a must have for its fine nose of asparagus and rich fruit in a decanter again worth saving for long.

Also look out for a limited edition released by Compass Box from Scotland, called the Last Vatted Malt. A mix of fine malts from Islay and Speyside only 1323 were released. The name is a bow to the phasing out of the term Vatted Malt by the Scotch Whisky Association and it’s replacement by Blended Malt.



So, Go Pure, for sure!

Anand Chintamani[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

On the Rocks – Sushi , Sashimi , Yamazaki! – by Anand Chintamani

Surely, although almost not enough..

There is also Honda, Toyota , Yamaha to name a few more, not to forget  Sony!

But yes, this is a call to definitely add  Yamazaki or Suntory to our regularly used Japanese sounding names!

For the uninitiated, Yamazaki is a single malt distillery owned by the Suntory Company of Japan, which produces eponymous whiskies aged 8YO and 12YO. Whisky guru Jim Murray who produces the Whisky Bible  has named Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 as the Best Whisky in the World in his 2015 edition. He also gave it 97.5 marks out of a possible 100 – surely the highest in the world, but for readers from Delhi, nah! I don’t think Yamazaki could make it to the 1st cutoff list of  any Delhi University college!


Back to Yamazaki, or Suntory..

..actually, as the legend goes, Japan’s whisky traditions begin with the college going of a student on an international exchange program, Masataka Taketsuru, who traveled to Scotland post World War I to study in Glasgow before falling under the spell of Scotch. Taketsuru worked in a number of distilleries during college days and took notes before returning to Japan in 1920. A few years, he found a willing partner in Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory, to establish the first commercial whiskey distillery, Yamazaki, the flag-bearer of Suntory’s whiskey portfolio. A few years late, Taketsuru founded his own distillery, which survives to this day as Nikka and is seen in bars the world over

The Japanese have been making whiskey in an array of styles for more than a century, though frankly, they pay brazen homage  to Scotch whisky in one form or another. There are peaty styles, fruity styles and some styles that defy easy categorization because of the use of oak called Mizunara from Japanese forests, which imparts a uniquely spicy finish.


Has Japanese whisky found it’s place in the sun, yes, I would say as I sip on Hibiki, 12YO, for example, one of the better known whiskies  which comes in a keep-worthy flower like bottle. A blend of about twenty odd whiskies, it is among the most elusive and complex whiskies I’ve had, with scents of grain and delicate floral whiffs, cream,  and a oily texture that is by turns salted yet sweet.

So go ahead, pour yourself a dram of Japanese Liquid Gold, on me, today as you watch this space for more invasions in the whisky world!


Anand Chintamani