There are two types of people that live in the world: those who appreciate fine alcohol and those who don’t. I belong to the latter category. I might be able to tell cheap cornershop wine from a fine one, but if someone starts talking about tannins, phenols or finish, my face goes blank and I start feeling awkward. I can live with this, one can lead a happy life without being able to appreciate fine alcoholic beverages. But there is one thing that I regret: the fact that built like I am, I will never be able to enjoy  the drink I have always been fascinated by, which, I believe has its own mysterious atmosphere: „the water of life” or uisce beathe by its original Scottish-Gaelic name. Yes, I’m talking about whisky.

But what brings whisky to Japan, the land of sake?

…or rather, who? The original recipe of whisky was introduced in Japan by Taketsuru Masataka, who travelled to Scotland in 1918 and returned in 1920 after two years of trials and tribulations. It was worth the trouble: he gained so much knowledge that, after carefully selecting the location, he was able to found the first distillery with the help of his nephew Torii Shinjiro in 1923. This is how Yamazaki, the first Japanese whisky brand came to be.

Click here to read more about the history of groundbreaker whisky manufacturers and famous distilleries!

 

What’s so special about Japanese whisky?

 

For a long time it was believed that you can’t produce outstanding whisky anywhere out of Scotland, where the geographical location is perfect and the quality of the ingredients is the highest. This has been proved a myth; the method of manufacturing whisky is carefully applied in Japan and ingredients are just as good, too. There must be differences, but these are never in quality; we would never compare the „quality” of two countries, Scotland and Japan, would we? By the same token, the distinctive tastes of Japanese or Scottish (Scotch) whisky are more about the characteristics of the different surroundings, and this is what makes these drinks unique. Suntory distillery, for example, uses casks that had previously been used for storing umeshu, plum liqueur; other distilleries mature whisky in casks made of Japanese oak (mizunara), which gives it a special, some say „mesmerising”, taste.

The method of tasting

Whisky has soul. The more attention we pay to it while tasting, the more pleasure we will gain in return. It is definitely worth doing it right!

First of all, we need to find the right glass, which is transparent-as colour is just as important as taste-, is tulip-shaped and has a stem; both features help us avoid unnecessary dissipation of fumes. Our next step is the nose: sniff the fumes of the drink, detecting the characteristic smell of the whisky, from literal ones („smokiness”) to highly subjective, emotive ones („old books” or even „tobacco” can be associated).

Now is the time to „palate”, or taste. We should move the liquid around slowly in our mouth, allowing the primary and then secondary flavours to emerge; these latter are felt closer to the nasal passage. Once we swallowed the drink, we will be able to feel the „finish”: these are the flavours coming to life as the molecules of the last remainders of the drink decay in our mouth. By adding a little water- although never tap water-we can help release the last of the aromas trapped in our whisky!

 

Sushi Sei, the Japanese restaurant is awaiting guests with a great selection of the highest quality Japanese spirits and original Japanese dishes made with precision from the best ingredients. May it be a family occasion or business meeting, SushiSei is the ideal venue for intimate conversations and formal events alike. Book a table in our restaurant or have your favourite meals delivered to your home!