Scotland is not, of course, the only place where whisky is made: Japan is currently producing spirits that are placing exceptionally well in international competitions, and a handful of other distilleries around the world are turning out excellent whiskies as well.
In Japan, the Suntory-owned trio Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki all produce exceptional spirits – the Yamazaki 25 won the industry-standard World’s Best Single Malt Whisky from Whisky magazine last year, repeating the Yamazaki 1984’s win in 2011. Other excellent Japanese bottles can be found from Yoichi (the 20 year old won the World’s Best Single Malt in 2008), Miyagikyo and Karuizawa.
Tasmania is another island with a perhaps surprising whisky culture. Lark distillery produces award-winning bottles, as does Sullivan’s Cove. A surprise winner at competitions around the world, Taiwan’s Kavalan is just turning eight years old, but the fruity flavours balance very pleasantly with simple honey notes, winning many fans. In India, Amrut distillery was founded in 1948, and its single malts show a deep understanding of whisky subtleties.
European whiskies are almost all newcomers: Mackmyra in Sweden has a fresh, flowery character. Millstone from Dutch distiller Zuidam tastes much older than its five years, as do the spirits from France’s Glann ar Mor and both The English Whisky Company and Wales’s Pendryn, the UK’s only whisky distilleries outside Scotland.
March 2013, ONLY Magazine