During our trip to Japan last year, we were lucky enough to try a range of different drinks all across the country. From locally run Ryokan bathhouses to lively bars and clubs, there is always something interesting to try in Japan. Although there simply isn’t enough time to talk about every Japanese drink we know of, there are 3 that we would recommend to anyone who wishes to experience a little slice of Japan for themselves.
Ninki Mini Sake Barrel from Sous Chef – £32.95
We couldn’t possibly talk about Japanese drinks without mentioning sake. If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying it, Sake is a traditional alcoholic drink made with fermented rice. Interestingly, different varieties of Sake can be served either chilled or hot. It’s served all across Japan in restaurants and bars and has recently seen a boost internationally.
The Mini Sake barrel from Sous Chef contains premium ginjo sake – a high-quality drink which is best served chilled. With ginjo sake, every grain of rice has to be milled, or polished, to a “seimaibuai” or remaining of 60% with 40% removal. This type of sake is a luxury even in Japan, proving fragrant and distinctive. The Sous Chef Mini Sake Barrel provides 300ml of ginjo sake, which is certainly enough to get you hooked; anybody who sees the elaborately wrapped barrel will feel instantly transported to the Land of the Rising Sun!
If you are interested in trying Sake for yourself, we can think of no better place to start. Along with the Mini Sake barrel, Sous Chef also offers a wide range of other Japanese-inspired products. In order to truly experience sake in a traditional setting, we would suggest also checking out their Kuro Sake Jug and accompanying Sake Cups. You can find out more information and buy the Mini Sake Barrel for yourself here.
Chita Single Grain Whisky 70cl – £52.50
Suntory has been going since the 1930s, and since then they have created a wide range of beers, wines and spirits. We know them best for their selection of premium whiskies, which have become renowned across the globe. We have talked about a number of Suntory drinks on Lussorian before, but today we would like to focus on two whiskies in particular; Chita Single Grain Whisky and Hibiki 21 Year Old Whisky.
Chita single grain whisky is created at the Chita Distillery in the Aichi prefecture of Japan. It is not open to the public, and few details are known about it. The bottle design features black calligraphy which is reminiscent of our time in Japan and creates a sophisticated aura before you even get to taste it. Just like the white bottle design, the Chita is a light whisky with a pale gold colour which appears very vibrant from a distance. It has a very sweet fragrance with strong hints of fruit, which is contrasted with the clear smell of alcohol. The light taste has some subtle hints of mint, wood spice, and honey. Adding water is preferred, which makes it smoother to drink and allows a caramel taste through, similar to crème brûlée.
Overall the Chita single grain whisky is a strong entry from Suntory and is worth picking up to try for yourself. To find out more information and buy a bottle for yourself, it is available for £50.50 from The Whisky Exchange here.
Hibiki 21 Years Old Whisky 70cl – £499.00
Although we were not able to try the Hibiki 21 Years old whisky for ourselves, it has received a lot of praise recently and won the “Supreme Champion Spirit” award at the International Spirits Challenge 2017.
‘Hibiki’ means ‘resonance’ in Japanese, and this whisky is a blend of mature malt and grain whiskies, aged over 21 years. At £499 this is a luxury whisky which is difficult to come by from most Japanese distilleries and is a notable release from Suntory. It has sweet aromas of dried fruit and a spicy flavour, with a richness that could only be expected from such an extravagant drink spirit.
You can find out more about Hibiki online at The Whisky Shop, and you can buy a bottle for yourself at £499.
HEAVENSAKE Junmai Ginjo Sake 70cl – £55.00
The Junmai Ginjo Sake is another must-try drunk from Harvey Nichols. The idea of HEAVENSAKE is to try to create the ‘world’s purest alcoholic drink’. This is done with low acidity, and tries to live up to the idea that sake is ‘alcoholic water’. Junmai Ginjo sake manages this to an extent; with fruity aromas of citrus and apple, it provides a sweet palate with a surprising amount of depth. This ginjo sake is best-served chill and served with seafood dishes, but we found that it works well heated as well.
You can learn more and pick up a bottle for yourself at £55.00 on the Harvey Nichols website.
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