Suntory Hibiki Harmony Whisky

These drams are some of Japan's finest | Source: Suntory

The Best Japanese Whiskeys 2022

Scotland has long been known as the leading producer of whisky, however, Japan’s distillers have been climbing the ranks to become serious contenders in the whisky space.

Since 2014, when Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible named Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 the Best Whisky in the World, connoisseurs have started recognising the quality of drams Japanese distillers are producing.

Today, Japan is one of the largest producers of whisky in the world. Building a reputation for complexity and nuance, many a whisky drinker has developed a longstanding love affair with the drops produced by leading Japanese whisky houses Suntory and Nikka. So much so, that the Japanese whisky market size is projected to grow to more than A$1.5 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. If you’re looking to see what the hype is all about, here are a few of the most highly rated Japanese whiskies on the market.

Suntory Toki

Featuring Hakashu single malt and Chita grain whisky, the Suntory Toki blend offers a palate of soft orchard fruits and thyme honey. The blended Japanese whisky rounds everything off with a white pepper and ginger finish.

Suntory Toki Blended Japanese Whisky
Suntory Toki Blended Japanese Whisky, A$68 | Source: FirstChoice

Yamazaki 12 Year Old

Another highly rated dram from Japan is the Yamazaki 12 Years Old. Defined by a coconut, cranberry and buttery palate, this sweet single malt offers peach, grapefruit, clove and candied orange on the nose and a long finish of sweet ginger and cinnamon.

Yamazaki 12-Year-Old
Yamazaki 12-Year-Old, A$418.85 | Source: Dan Murphy’s

Nikka Coffey Grain

Released in 2012, the Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky features rich and complex flavours thanks to being matured in old American oak casks. With aromas of sweet fruit including pear, cherry and apricot nectar, the sweet and mellow Coffey Grain progresses into a bourbon vanilla finish.

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky, A$134.99 | Source: Kent Street Cellars

Hibiki Harmony Whisky

A blend of more than 10 malts and three-grain whiskies, Suntory’s Hibiki Harmony is defined by its complexity and luminosity. A palate of candied orange peel, white chocolate and honey-like sweetness progress into a subtle finish featuring a hint of Japanese oak.

Hibiki Harmony Whisky
Hibiki Harmony Whisky, A$215 | Source: Liquorland

Mars Iwai Tradition Japanese Blended Whisky

Described as both soft and rounded, the Mars Iwai Tradition offers a sweet and full-bodied palate of orange marmalade, maple, cedar, cigar and sweet peat. This popular Japanese dram is aged in a mix of sherry, bourbon and wine casks and produced by longstanding Hombo Shuzo.

Mars Iwai Tradition Japanese Blended Whisky
Mars Iwai Tradition Japanese Blended Whisky, A$109.99 | Source: Dan Murphy’s

Kikori Rice Whisky

Made from 100 per cent locally grown rice, Kumamoto based distillery, Kikori, creates distinct and smooth rice whisky. A floral and fragrant aroma leads to notes of melon, toasted almonds and sherry before finishing bright and clean.

Kikori Rice Whiskey
Kikori Rice Whiskey, A$64 | Source: Wine-Searcher

Hakushu Single Malt Whisky

Characterised by herbaceous notes, this complex single malt features a hint of smoke and a combination of lightly peated malt whiskies with American oak cask malt whiskies. Concocted in Suntory’s Mt Kaikomagatake distillery, this Japanese whisky offers crisp and refreshing nuances.

Hakushu Single Malt Whisky
Hakushu Single Malt Whisky, A$160 | Source: FirstChoice

Looking for more whiskey recommendations? Check out Better With Age: The Oldest Whiskeys You Can Buy Today or read up on GlenDronach’s 50-Year-Old Whisky has Arrived in Australia.

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