Japanese Whisky Teases U.S. Consumers By Playing Hard To Get

on 08/09/13 at 9:26 am

Spirits

indexScotland is the de facto king of whisky. But now an unlikely challenger — Japan — is making a name for its whiskey far beyond its borders. Unfortunately for Americans, this highly coveted Japanese whiskey is very hard to come by.

“I stock everything that’s currently available,” says Eddie Kim, beverage director at the Japanese in Washington, D.C. “I’d take more [Japanese whiskey] if it was out there.” Currently, he has on hand two and four whiskies — two big Japanese producers and the only ones that export to the U.S.

Japanese distillers have tried to emulate Scotch whisky production, so the flavors are similar. But you’ll find that the whiskies from Japan are smoother and a tad sweeter than what you’ll get from Scotland.

So why won’t Japanese producers just send us more of their delightful spirit? For one, they aren’t all that confident that Americans will drink their whiskey the “right” way. “Japanese whiskey distillers are very protective of their product,” says Kim. “It’s a made for Japanese palates, so it needs context.”

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