Education

New Japanese Whisky Regulations Ensure Integrity

Japan has been distilling whisky officially since 1923 and has since been slowly making its whiskies known throughout the world. Currently, Japanese whiskies are some of the most expensive and sought-after bottles in the market. Unfortunately, as whisky lovers began to learn more about Japanese whiskies, they found that not everything was what it seemed. Connoisseurs everywhere discovered some Japanese whiskies were not actually from Japan but were blended with whiskies from other counties and imported to Japan. There were no set regulations for Japanese producers and blenders, so it became difficult for consumers to get clear answers and the industry became rife with imposters.

Beginning on April 1st, 2021, the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association instituted a new list of regulations to ensure integrity for Japanese whisky. All members of the association must follow the new rules to label their product “Japanese whisky”, although they do have until the end of March 2024 to adhere to all the regulations, which include:

• Malted grain must be used as the starting material, other grain may be added.
• The water used must come from Japan.
• The production process from malting through fermentation, distillation and maturation must take place in a Japanese distillery.
• A maximum of 95% vol. may be distilled.
• Japanese whisky must be stored in wooden barrels with a maximum volume of 700 liters for at least three years.
• When bottling, which must take place in Japan, the alcohol content of the whisky must not fall below 40% vol.
• Coloring with caramel (E150) is allowed.

Japanese whisky has a bright future, and a few regulations are welcomed if it prevents a false representation of Japan. Hopefully we’ll see some new distilleries stepping up to the game and showing the true nature of Japan.

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