Ji-whisky can really be whisky lottery: hidden gems, great nectars as well as awfully undrinkable liquids can hide behind this kawaï term – but the good news is that there’ll always be a surprise when you crack open the bottle 😉
But do you actually know what ji-whisky is?
So what’s the difference between ji-whisky and Japanese whisky I hear you say…
All ji-whiskies are Japanese whiskies while all Japanese whiskies aren’t necessarily ji-whiskies. Makes sense? 🙂
To make it easier to understand, think about “ji-whisky” as if you were refering to the smaller, local, sometimes more than crafty/micro producers. As you probably know, the regulations around whisky production in Japan aren’t as strict as in Europe… So ji-whiskies can really be everything and anything… Some producers don’t even have the right equipment to produce whisky and have to borrow it elsewhere, while others take advantage of their know-how in brewing and distilling to craft real liquid sunshine…
Their “local” particularity is maybe their more significant characteric, as ji-whiskies aren’t available throughout Japan but tend to be only sold within their local areas. No need to say, you won’t see those commercialised oversea either (well, that’s probably just a matter of time though when you think about the popularity of both Japanese whisky and craft whiskies… Still, you’ll be able to find some of those at auctions from time to time!)
A second important fact is that most ji-whisky producers are actually only producing whisky as a side activity alongside their main products, saké or shochu (a popular Japanese alcohol) – while Saké has been regaining some popularity those past few years, sales of the Japanese spirit had been dropping for a long while and Japanese brewers had no other choice but to diversify their production… Turning to whisky!
So you see, finally, behind this somehow mysterious term lies a very simple concept!
See you next month for our next #BacktoWhiskyBasics lesson 😀
But before, let me leave you with 2 fine examples of ji-whiskies available online
Wakatsuru Sunshine 25 yo 1990 Single Malt
Yamazakura Sherry Wood Finish Cask Strength 15 Year Old
Final tip: if you’ve got a friend travelling to Japan anytime soon, ask him/her to get you a bottle of some local stuff to try, you could be in for a real treat 😉
Cover Pic: kudago.com