The development of Japanese whiskey
The art of distillation has not occurred in Japan at the same time that Western whiskeys. For several centuries already Japanese produce beverages distilled from a mash of fermented rice as shochu or awamori . The technique of distillation appeared to Japan from China in the 15th century .
It was not until 1853 that whiskey has officially arrived on the islands in the holds of the American fleet commander Matthew Calbraith Perry, distillation techniques and preparation of cereals appeared a little later around 1880 .
Unlike western producers of distilled beverages, the Japanese use as a malting a fungus that will promote the fermentation of rice for the development of shochu and awamori . But for the development of their whiskeys , they use traditional Scottish techniques, including for malting .
Is there a difference between the Japanese whiskey and Scotch whiskey ?
There are no fundamental differences in the technical process , as well as Scottish , Japanese use previously malted cereals ( peat or not ) they brew with water and yeast to initiate fermentation of mixture , then this beer is distilled twice in pot stills " pot still" or column stills " Coffey still ." Japanese whiskey is aged exclusively in oak barrels for a minimum period of three years.
But then what Japanese whiskey is different from Scotch whiskey ?
First, unlike Scotland , the Japanese are known for producing some peaty whiskeys .
Second, the small number of distilleries in Japan and the lack of exchange between producers, naturally pushed each distillery to produce a wide variety of single malts. Eg Yamazaki can produce more than sixty single malts of different types.
This variety is achieved by the use of selected yeasts rigourosly over the years and each specific distilleries, stills of various shapes and many different types of barrels for aging , the barrels mizunara , oak species endemic to Japan.
Masters in the art of distillation and assembly , the Japanese see the fruits of their labor rewarded regularly for the past fifteen years, for example, several titles of " Distiller of the Year " won by Suntory .
Third, most Japanese distilleries were built in preserved natural areas where abundant water is recognized for its purity. Some, such as Yamazaki , even have their own water source. Through the purity of its waters , Japan expresses its terroir which some full part in whether specific character of Japanese whiskeys.
Another specificity for three Japanese distilleries , distillation at low pressure which is possible only when the distillery is located in height. Karuizawa , now closed , Shinshu Hakushu and Mars are located between 700 and 800 meters which allows natural distillation at low pressure. To understand , we must know the temperature of the boiling point ( 100 ° C at sea level ) varies depending on the pressure, the higher the altitude is increasing the pressure decreases and therefore the boiling temperature drops . This allows low pressure distillation keeping a larger number of aromas and a finer and smoother texture . Today, some distilleries worldwide use pressurized stills to reproduce the low-pressure distillation .
Last specificity , one might think that the Japanese use barley grown on the islands, but in reality almost all imported from Scotland , unlike Scottish using mainly barley imported from Germany, Poland or even the United States . Yes Japanese whiskeys are almost entirely composed of Scottish barley, ironically might say ...
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