The 9 Best Japanese Whiskies Available In the U.S. (and the Best One That Isn't)

The 9 Best Japanese Whiskies Available In the U.S. (and the Best One That Isn’t)

In the last few years, Japanese whisky has made huge strides on the global stage. While it was once a forgotten country for spirits, Japan is home to some of the best distilleries in the world including Suntory’s Yamazaki Distillery, home of Jim Murray’s 2015 best whisky in the world. Here are our favorite bottles you should look for stateside.

  • Yamazaki 18 Year Old

    Yamazaki 18 Year Old

    This whisky has won over 17 awards including gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. It’s a smooth whisky with a spicy finish that’s packed with notes of toffee, raisins and coffee. Link

  • Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old

    Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old

    This whisky is referred to as “pure malt” because it’s a blend of only malt whiskies from Nikka’s Miyagiyo and Yoichi distilleries. Like many of Nikka’s offerings, Pure Malt is a smoky, sweet adventure into the land of the rising sun. Link

  • Hibiki Japanese Harmony

    Hibiki Japanese Harmony

    This whisky is an homage to the harmony between the Japanese and their natural environment. Harmony is a blend of the best that Suntory has to offer from ten different malt and grain whiskies aged in five different casks. Link

  • Miyagikyo 15 Year Old

    Miyagikyo 15 Year Old

    This offering from Nikka was aged for fifteen years and the results are noticeable. This rich, malty single malt was given a rating of 92 by famed whisky writer Jim Murray, and he’s a man who knows a thing or two about great whisky. Link

  • Hakushu 18 Year Old

    Hakushu 18 Year Old

    This malty, fruity single malt comes from Suntory’s Hakashu Distillery in Yamanashi Prefecture. Its flavors of pear, mango, and mint, along with its sweet, smoky flavor make it well worth the price tag. Link

  • Miyagikyo 12 Year Old

    Miyagikyo 12 Year Old

    The second offering from Nikka on this list is a sweet, rich single malt whisky with hints of cinnamon, vanilla and caramel. The finish is reminiscent of an Islay scotch with subtle peated smoke flavor. Link

  • Hakushu 12 Year Old

    Hakushu 12 Year Old

    This single malt from Hakashu has won numerous awards including a gold medal at the 2012 International Spirits Challenge. It’s a perfect sipping whisky, but also works well in a high-ball with a splash of soda water or mineral water. Link

  • Yoichi 15 Year Old

    Yoichi 15 Year Old

    This single malt was given a 95 rating by Murray. Much of the reason he loved it so much is because of where it was distilled. Yoichi is located on the northern island of Hokkaido. It was built at a high elevation in a cool climate so that its whiskies would closely resemble those of Scotland. Link

  • Hibiki 21 Year Old

    Hibiki 21 Year Old

    This offering from Hibiki is a can’t miss if you don’t mind shelling out a pretty hefty chunk of change. Hibiki 21 was named the World’s Best Blended Whisky at the 2014 World Whiskies Awards and lives up to its title. Link

  • Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask

    Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask

    Murray named this as the best whisky in the world in his 2015 Whisky Bible. If you’re lucky enough to find this somewhere, pay whatever outrageous price they’re asking. Even though it has no age statement, this single malt gets its intense flavor from aging in sherry barrels. Although not technically available in the U.S., you should really try to get your hands on it.