The advance of Japan`s whisky continues. Its single malts have been winning awards. Lots of them. In fact, I have ignored quite a few of these honours recently just because I don`t want this blog to become a long list of prize winners, like the announcements at some agricultural show.
However, the Malt Maniacs Awards are special. For a start, they are a product of whisky`s thriving internet culture and they also bring together a genuinely multinational community behind their decisions. In this year`s awards, announced at the start of the month, Japanese whisky did exceedingly well.
The overall award went to a Laphroaig 27 year old, but, in the "Ultra Premium" awards, Nikka Yoichi 18 yo 1987/2006 (55,2%, SMWS C#116.9) snatched the "Supreme Warped Cask Award" (Best whisky matured or finished in 'special' casks). The Japanese must be pretty warped because they took the same "Supreme Warped Cask Award" in the "Daily Drams" divisionn: Hanyu 1988/2007 (55.6%, Number One Drinks Company, Cask #9501, finished in Japanese oak). However, the Yamazaki 15 yo (56%, OB, Bottled +/- 2007, 600ml) won the "Gentle Giant Award" in the same division (best unpeated, unsherried and unfinished whisky), proving that the Japanese are not just cask finish geeks.
The overall top Japanese whisky for 2007 was the Karuizawa 'Vintage' 1981/2007 (58.1%, OB, C#103). The Silver and Bronze medal sections were stacked full of Japanese whiskies which, in the interests of avoiding agricultural showishness, I will leave to the Maniacs page.