A Japanese Whisky Primer

A Japanese Whisky Primer cont.

By Aaron Gilbreath

Unlike some US and UK drinkers, the Japanese take their drams with food. There don’t seem to be standard accompaniments, but Japanese-whisky blogger Chris Bunting enjoys the drink with chocolate, salted fish, even jerky, and recommends Hakushu 12 with sushi. Others pair it with ayu, a sweet fish with melonlike flesh. On his website, Bunting mentions a tasting that paired Yamazakis with miso-mustard duck, herring and marinated salmon, even haggis and mashers.

Additionally, the Japanese frequently drink both domestic and imported single-malts on ice, and/or diluted. Served watered down with ice, it’s called mizuwari; diluted with hot water, oyuwari. These methods likely derive from drinking shochu, and prevent spirits from overwhelming food.

For experiencing the fragrance, or “nose,” of a whisky, use a special tulip-shaped glass. The shape concentrates aromas so that once you add water, the scent is funneled upward.

As a side note: In Japan, it is customary to pour your tablemates’ drinks and to let them pour yours. And if you drink too much, futsukayoi means “hangover.”