By now, you've heard a thing or two about Japanese whiskey is a good drink to get into. The main reason we're talking about it is that recently, there's been somewhat of a shortage on the delicious nectar from the east.
Over the last decade or so, sales have really been driven up which started out as a great thing for whiskey connoisseurs. Then, Japanese distillers started winning every major international award.
Problem is, nobody was drinking any Japanese whiskey back around the 2000s, a critical year for aging, to satisfy a sudden surge almost 15 years later. There was no way they could have predicted the boom was coming, so the only option for them was to cap how much of the remaining whiskey supply they could cram into a bottle.
We're looking at a shortage that could last something like another 10 years, so if you want some you're going to need to snag a bottle as soon as you can.
Let's talk about affordable bottles since you're looking at a kind of drink that can run you upward of $150 bucks. The industry dominated by Suntory, a giant of Japanese whiskey, with Nikka coming in as a close second. These are the giants of Japanese whiskey, the stuff the people of Japan drink when they know what they're talking about.
We're not necessarily the people of Japan, and For the time being, the whiskey I've listed below is all under $125, but I don't know how long that will last, because of of...well you know, the shortage.
Nika Coffey Grain Whisky
Not to be confused with coffee, but as in Aeneas Coffey, the inventor of the traditional two-column Coffey still to produce the spirit. The Japanese company Nikka has obtained a Coffey still they imported from Scotland in the early 1960s, and with it, they make grain whiskey and Coffey malt, something not normally done with Coffey stills.
All of this is really just fluff to let you know it's good stuff, try and grab a bottle while you still can because everything they make is top shelf stuff.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony
Hibiki blends are a great representation of what Japanese whiskey has to offer. Japanese Harmony is the most smooth (see: entry-level) stuff Hibiki has to offer, which is good news for you because it's actually some of the best they have to offer. It's an extremely soft whiskey with a woody, honey aroma and silky texture.
Kirin Whisky Fuji Sanroku
A Japanese supermarket level whiskey, super affordable, and probably easiest to get. It's bottled at 50% alcohol, so I can't recommend having it neat. Open it up with some room temperature water, or go high-ball since it's getting a little hotter out. The thing that makes it unique is that it's got a bourbon-like flavor, made with water melted mount fuji snow that takes 50 years to filter through sediment left by volcanic eruptions. Yeah, and you just paid 10 dollars for a shot of Jack.
Mars Whisky Twin Alps Blended Whisky
The drink so nice they put whiskey in it twice, Mars is moving to a more traditional single malt only, and this is kind of the stopgap before some more aged stuff hits the shelves. Twin Alps is better than it has any right to be. It's inexpensive (under $30), easy to drink, and particularly oaky and fruity. In a couple of words, it's cheap and delicious.
Many of these aren't really sold locally, so you might have to order online or go to a specialty shop in your area. It will be well worth the effort because in case you didn't notice, the Japanese do things like use melted volcanic water in their distillation process. If you have more cash to drop on the stuff, you may want to do some of you're own research and impress everyone you know by quoting stuff you read online about the whiskey you offer them!