To celebrate dekantā’s third anniversary in June, Japanese whisky writers, journalists and valued friends gathered at Mayfair restaurant and bar Sexy Fish to sample a very special whisky for the first time. It was a reminder of the myriad ways to enjoy Japanese whisky, from the traditional neat serve, to the delightful refreshing highball, and cocktails inspired by the flavours in Japanese cuisine.
It’s hard to go wrong with a classic serve of Japanese whisky, straight or with a drop or two of water to open up the liquid and bring forth its aromas. Choice of worth considering, and the shape of the glass should allow for the top notes to circulate. A Scottish Glencairn glass is choice, though you might prefer a copita glass, or a tumbler. Our glass of choice is the NEAT tasting glass, shorter than a Glencairn, but with a similar shape to allow those aromas to circulate in the glass.
This is how we served our first private label bottling, the Kikou from the Ki Series, who’s identity was first revealed to those who attended our online launch event, and our media event at Sexy Fish. A whisky from the little known Eigashima distillery in Japan, it has spent time maturing in a Port Ellen Scottish whisky cask – a unique finish that pays tribute to the man widely regarded as the ‘Father of Japanese whisky’, Masataka Taketsuru, who spent time studying the art of whisky production in Scotland before taking his knowledge and expertise to Japan.
A whisky to savour, the Kikou – Ki Series evokes the Japanese climate, having breathed the saline-rich air of Kobe bay, while delivering influence of the Scottish coast from the Port Ellen cask with a hint of smoke on the nose and palate. Senses certainly piqued, guests had a culinary experience ahead of them.
Whisky is a common drink to have with food in Japan, frequently in the form of a refreshing highball. Rather than masking the flavour of the whisky, a highball draws out the flavour, showcasing the meticulous art of Japanese blending.
The Japanese whisky highball puts into practice the meaning behind the Japanese word kodawari, which describes painstaking attention to detail. It is a variation on the Japanese Mizuwari, which means mixed with water. The making of the Mizuwari is a ritual of gradually adding ice and water to the whisky, along with a precise number of stirs: thirteen and a half of the whisky before any water or ice is added, followed by another three and a half of the finished cocktail. The Highball is a Mizuwari made with sparkling water, is highly refreshing, and an excellent accompaniment to food.
Japanese whisky cocktails are an opportunity to experiment with some Japanese flavours. Unless your complementary flavours are subtle, a robust whisky is required to really shine through.
We chose the new Kamiki Blended Malt Whisky for our anniversary introductory cocktail. As the first whisky to be matured in Japanese cedar wood casks, it is aromatic and punchy.Notes of honey-dipped apples and peaches are met with fresh incense, ginger and sandalwood on the palate.
A honey-soy old fashioned delivered the strength of character to match that of the Kamiki whisky, bringing sweet and salty notes to the mix. Poured over an expertly cut piece of clear ice, this was a complex drinking experience to showcase a distinct, intense new whisky.
Whether a highball, or other whisky cocktail, is your drink of choice, or you’d prefer to contemplate a Japanese Single Malt neat, we encourage you to drink your fine whisky from Japan in style. Thanks to all who joined our anniversary celebrations both online and off. To all our friends across the globe, we look forward to raising a toast and celebrating our fourth anniversary with you in 2019.
This is the fourth in an introductory series to Japanese whisky from dekantā.com, the world’s foremost online retailer of Japanese whisky, and other Japanese spirits, and most recently, Japanese wine from the dekantā cellar. Written by dekantā PR and Social Media Strategist, Miriam Rune, who has been known to write for the dekantā blog, and enjoys connecting with Japanese whisky fans for a dram and some chat. On Twitter: @MiriamRune1