The World Whiskies Awards, a whisky competition to select the best whisky in each category from among whisky entries from around the world, has announced the results of the preliminary rounds for each country for 2022.
In this article, I will introduce the results of the first round in Japan, organized by category.
Many whiskeys released by craft distilleries (small distilleries) such as Akkeshi, Kanosuke, Tsunuki, Komagatake, Asaka, and Saburomaru won awards.
The prize-winning products from the preliminary rounds will now advance to the World Round, where the final results will be announced on March 24.
- 1. What is the World Whisky Awards?
- 2. Judging process
- 3. Results of the first round in Japan
- 3-1. Blended
- [Category Winner] Akkeshi blended whisky Shosho
- [Gold] Nikka From the Barrel
- [Silver] Akkeshi Blended Whisky Usui
- [Silver] Nikka Days
- [Silver] Shinobu Blended Whisky Mizunara Wood Finish
- [Silver] Kyoto Whisky Nishijin Textile Black Belt
- [Bronze] Shin Select Reserve
- [Bronze] The Shiki Blended Whisky Number 5
- [Bronze] The Shiki Blended Whisky Number 6
- [Bronze] The Shiki Blended Whisky Number 7
- 3-2. Blended Limited Release
- 3-3. Blended Malt No Age Statement
- 3-4. Blended Malt 12 Years & Under
- 3-5 .New Make & Young Spirit
- 3-6. Single Cask Single Malt
- 3-7.Single Cask Single Malt 12 Years & Under
- 3-8.Single Malt Single Malt
- [Category Winner] Kanosuke Single Malt Limited distillery
- [Gold] Kanosuke Single Malt 2021 Second Edition
- [Silver] Kanosuke Single Malt 2021 First Edition
- [Silver] Yamazakura Asaka The First Peated
- [Silver] Nikka Single Malt Yoichi Non-peated
- [Silver] Mars Tsunuki 2022 Edition
- [Bronze] Akkeshi Blended Whisky SARORUNKAMUY Overseas Edition
- [Bronze] Nikka Single Malt Miyagikyo
- [Bronze] Mars Tsunuki 2021 Minami-Satsuma Edition
- [Bronze Bronze] Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu The Peated 2022
- 3-9. Small Batch Single Malt
- 3-10. Small Batch Single Malt 12 Years & Under
- 3-1. Blended
- 4. Consideration
1. What is the World Whisky Awards?
The World Whisky Awards is a global award that recognizes the best of all styles of internationally recognized whisky. Sponsored by TheDrinksReport.com, the world’s #1 online resource for liquor professionals, the World Whisky Awards selects, honors and promotes the world’s best whiskies to consumers and industry professionals around the world.
2. Judging process
The judging process is divided into two genres: Taste and Design. Here, I will explain the Taste judging.
2-1. Round 1
Each whisky is tasted in its own style to identify and select the style winner. The judging panel for the World Whisky Awards includes international journalists, liquor retailers and industry experts. The first round of judging seems to be done by each of the exhibiting countries.
2-2. Round 2
The whiskeys that won the style awards are tasted against each other to determine the “best” whiskey in each category.
2-3. Round 3
The “Best” whiskies in each category are tasted one last time to determine the “World’s Best” whisky. In addition to the judges from the first and second rounds, the judges at this stage will include leading distillery managers and whisky industry experts.
3. Results of the first round in Japan
Now, let’s take a look at the results of the first round of whisky from Japan, category by category. The original information of this list is here.
For the sake of volume, only the product names of the Blonze award-winning whiskies will be introduced.
Blended whisky is a whisky made by vatting at least one type of single malt whisky and one type of single grain whisky. If a blended malt has a geographical indication (e.g. Irish blended malt), the blend must have been vatted and bottled in the country listed on the label. Additionally, the majority (50% or more) of the component whiskeys must have been distilled and matured in the country listed on the label to be eligible for entry.
[Category Winner] Akkeshi blended whisky Shosho
[Gold] Nikka From the Barrel
[Silver] Akkeshi Blended Whisky Usui
[Silver] Nikka Days
[Silver] Shinobu Blended Whisky Mizunara Wood Finish
[Bronze] Shin Select Reserve
[Bronze] The Shiki Blended Whisky Number 5
[Bronze] The Shiki Blended Whisky Number 6
[Bronze] The Shiki Blended Whisky Number 7
3-2. Blended Limited Release
A blended whisky release with a limited production of 3,600 bottles or less.
[Category Winner] Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Limited Edition 2022
The photo shows the version for 2021, so the product that won this award is supposed to be released in 2022.
[Silver] Single Blended Whisky Fuji Limited 2022
What does it mean that Kirin’s “Single Grain Fuji” calls itself “Single Blended” ? I think it means that it is a blend of malt and grain from a single distillery (Fuji Gotemba Distillery).
The photo shows the current “Single Grain Fuji” for reference.
3-3. Blended Malt No Age Statement
Blended malt whiskey is made by combining single malt whiskeys distilled at different distilleries, and is sometimes referred to as “vatted malt” or “pure malt” on the package. If a blended malt has a geographical indication (e.g. Irish blended malt), the blend must have been vatted and bottled in the country indicated on the label. Additionally, the majority (50% or more) of the component whiskeys must have been distilled and matured in the country listed on the label to be eligible for entry.
[Category Winner] Yamazakura Blended Malt Asaka
[Silver] Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt
[Silver] Mars Komagatake x Chichibu Malt Duo 2021
[Bronze] Masahiro Pure malt whisky
[Bronze] Inazuma Synergy Blend
[Bronze] Far East of Peat First Batch
[Bronze] Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries
3-4. Blended Malt 12 Years & Under
[Category Winner] Shinobu 10 Year Pure Malt Whisky Mizunara
[Gold] Masahiro Pure malt whisky 12 years old Oloroso Sherry Cask
[Silver] Kurayoshi 12 yeaes
[Silver] Kurayoshi 18 years
[Bronze] Shin Mizunara 10 Years Old
[Bronze] Shibui Pure Malt 10 Years Old
3-5 .New Make & Young Spirit
New Make Spirits are unaged products distilled from fermented grain mash in copper pots, columns, or hybrid stills. Young Spirit is a New Make spirit that has been aged in wooden barrels for at least six months but less than two years.
[Category Winner] Yamazakura New Pot Asaka Peated
[Silver] Mars Tsunuki New Pot Heavily Peated 2021
[Bronze] Yamazakura New Pot Asaka
[Bronze] Niigata Kameda New Pot Niigata Barley
3-6. Single Cask Single Malt
A single cask is a wooden cask with a capacity of 750 liters or less. To qualify as a single cask single malt whisky, it must have been drained and bottled without the addition of any substance other than water (for dilution) and/or spirit caramel. No vatting of more than two casks is permitted in the single cask single malt production process.
[Category Winner] Yamazakura Single Cask Whisky Asaka
[Gold] Mars Single Cask Tsunuki #T491
3-7.Single Cask Single Malt 12 Years & Under
[Category Winner] Malus Komagatake 2014 Single Cask No.1841 7years
[Gold] Saburomaru Handfill 2017
[Silver] Ichiro’s Malt Single Cask #2080 for Whisky Festival
[Bronze] Mars Single Cask Tsunuki #T86
3-8.Single Malt Single Malt
Single malt whisky must be 100% malted barley, distilled at least twice using copper pot stills. Multiple casks may be used, but the product must be from a single distillery, have at least 40% alcohol by volume, and be aged in wooden casks for at least two years. If the single malt whiskey has a geographical indication (such as Irish single malt whiskey), it must have been distilled and aged in the country indicated on the label.
[Category Winner] Kanosuke Single Malt Limited distillery
[Silver] Kanosuke Single Malt 2021 First Edition
[Silver] Yamazakura Asaka The First Peated
[Silver] Nikka Single Malt Yoichi Non-peated
[Silver] Mars Tsunuki 2022 Edition
[Bronze] Akkeshi Blended Whisky SARORUNKAMUY Overseas Edition
[Bronze] Nikka Single Malt Miyagikyo
[Bronze] Mars Tsunuki 2021 Minami-Satsuma Edition
[Bronze Bronze] Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu The Peated 2022
3-9. Small Batch Single Malt
Small batch single malt whiskey is defined as a single malt whiskey produced using less than 100 casks.
[Category Winner] Single Malt Nagahama Sherry Cask Batch 0208
[Silver] Single Malt Nagahama Bordeaux Cask Batch 1427
3-10. Small Batch Single Malt 12 Years & Under
[Silver] Saburomaru Ⅰ The Magician Cask Strength
It seems that the judging is done strictly by blind tasting, where experts from each country evaluate without being told the brand name.
Among the growing number of craft distilleries in Japan over the past few years, it is very gratifying and meaningful that the Akkeshi Distillery, the Kanosuke Distillery, the Azumi Distillery, the Komagatake Distillery, the Tsunuki Distillery, and the Saburomaru Distillery, all of which started early on, were given a fair evaluation. Not only Suntory and Nikka, the major Japanese whiskey companies, but also “Craft Distilleries” were able to show their presence.
On the other hand, when I look at the judging results, there are a few things that make me feel a little uncomfortable. There were some whiskeys that seemed to have been blended in Japan after a short period of aging with imported raw materials that were probably designed for overseas consumption, such as “I’ve never heard of this kind of whiskey in Japan” or “This kind of whiskey is not distributed in Japan. (I’m not sure if this is in violation of the regulations or not.)
It is somewhat distressing to think that whiskeys made without sufficient production facilities are being judged as “whiskeys made by Japanese people” with designs and descriptions that look as if they are Japanese whiskeys, taking advantage of the global boom of Japanese whiskey.
I would like to continue to watch the development of Japanese whisky on a global scale, hoping that this kind of discomfort will gradually disappear when authentic Japanese whisky matures further in the future.