“World Whiskies Awards 2022” Japan Qualifier Results Announcement and List of Award Winners

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Nikka WhiskyYoichi DistilleryFujigotenba DistilleryChichibu Distillery (Ichiro's Malt)komagatake DistilleryTsunuki DistilleryAkkeshi DistilleryKanosuke DistillerySaburomaru DistilleryNagahama DistilleryAsaka DistillerySakurao Distillery

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 whiskys 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.

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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.

 

(Image source: World Whiskies Awards)

 

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 whiskys that won the style awards are tasted against each other to determine the “best” whisky 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.

3-1. Blended

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 whiskys must have been distilled and matured in the country listed on the label to be eligible for entry.

[Category Winner] Akkeshi blended whisky Shosho

【レビュー】厚岸ブレンデッドウイスキー処暑(しょしょ)
熟成年数4年の原酒をメインに使用。原酒の構成はバーボン樽原酒主体でシェリー樽、ワイン樽原酒にて調整。複雑さと深みを増した熟成感。

[Gold] Nikka From the Barrel

[Review] Nikka From the Barrel
"From the Barrel" is a blend of aged malt and grain unrained sake, then packed again and re-stored for several months.

[Silver] Akkeshi Blended Whisky Usui

【Review】Akkeshi Blended Whisky U...
Released on February 28, 2021, akkeshi blended whisky usui is a gorgeous harmony of sweet and aromatic peatiness combined with the lightness of grain.

[Silver] Nikka Days

[Review] Nikka Days
Released in November 2018. Exclusive to Japan, Japanese Blended Whisky.

[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

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 whisky is made by combining single malt whiskys 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 whiskys must have been distilled and matured in the country listed on the label to be eligible for entry.

[Category Winner] Yamazakura Blended Malt Asaka

[Review] Yamazakura Blended Malt...
This is a carefully selected blend of domestic unblended sake that we have been storing and aging for some time and unblended sake from Asaka Distillery. A blended malt Japanese whisky that has been aged for an additional 18 months in sherry casks.The richness and beautiful sweetness derived from sherry are well-balanced, and the aftertaste is long.

[Silver] Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt

 

[Review] Taketsuru Pure Malt New...
Hsinchutsuru Pure Malt is a combination of malt forged in the northern sea and malt grown in a green canyon.

[Silver] Mars Komagatake x Chichibu Malt Duo 2021

[Review] Mars Whisky Malt Duo Ko...
In 2015, Mars Shinshu Distillery and Venture Whiskey Chichibu Distillery began exchanging malt liquor and maturing it in their respective locations. With this in mind, in 2015, Mars Shinshu Distillery and Venture Whiskey Chichibu Distillery began exchanging malt whiskey from each other and maturing it in their respective locations.

[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 

(Image source: SHIN GROUP)

[Silver] Kurayoshi 12 yeaes 

[Silver] Kurayoshi 18 years

created by Rinker
マツイ ピュアモルトウイスキー 倉吉 18年 700ml ブランド名

[Bronze] Shin Mizunara 10 Years Old

[Bronze] Shibui Pure Malt 10 Years Old

3-5 .New Make & YoungSpirit

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

マルスウイスキー4本セット 津貫ニューポット・ノンピーテッド2016 モルテージ越百 ツインアルプス 3&7 セット
ウイスキーセット

[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

(Image source: Klass Tiles )

 

[Gold] Mars Single Cask Tsunuki #T491

[Review] Single cask TSUNUKI 202...
This is the first single cask that uses raw sake (distilled in 2018) distilled in the second season of Tsunuki Distillery operation.

3-7.Single Cask Single Malt 12 Years & Under

[Category Winner] Malus Komagatake 2014 Single Cask No.1841 7years

[Gold] Saburomaru Handfill 2017

(Image source: Me and ALC)

[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 whisky has a geographical indication (such as Irish single malt whisky), it must have been distilled and aged in the country indicated on the label.

[Category Winner] Kanosuke Single Malt Limited distillery

(Image source: Kannosuke Distillery)

[Gold] Kanosuke Single Malt 2021 Second Edition

[Review] Single Malt KANOSUKE 20...
Japanese whiskey distilled and aged at Kanosuke Distillery in 2018A whiskey with an elegant sweetness, bittersweetness and barrel aroma.

[Silver] Kanosuke Single Malt 2021 First Edition

[Review] Single Malt Kanosuke 20...
The Kanosuke Distillery's first single malt Japanese whiskey, Single Malt Kanosuke 2021 FIRST EDITION, is made with non-peated malt and is bottled at cask strength using multiple barrels vatted with the same cask used for the barrel-aged rice shochu, Mellow Kozuru. It is bottled at cask strength.

[Silver]Yamazakura Asaka The First Peated

[Silver] Nikka Single Malt Yoichi Non-peated

[Review] Single Malt Yoichi Non-...
This is the first product in the NIKKA DISCOVERY series that focuses on the depth created by the history of the variety of undissed sake owned by Nikka Whisky, which celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2024, and whisky through manufacturing processes such as raw materials and fermentation. A series that "discovers" the diversity, depth, and unexpectedness of whisky.

[Silver] Mars Tsunuki 2022 Edition

[Review] Single Malt Tsunuki 202...
The gorgeous and sweet aroma, the sweetness of the fruit combined with the woody and sweet taste of the bourbon barrels make for a pleasant finish.

[Bronze] Akkeshi Blended Whisky SARORUNKAMUYOverseas 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 whisky is defined as a single malt whisky produced using less than 100 casks.

[Category Winner] Single Malt Nagahama Sherry Cask Batch 0208

(Image source: Campfire “Nagahama Whisky Lab”)

[Silver] Single Malt Nagahama Bordeaux Cask Batch 1427

(Image source: Furusato Taxation “Sato Furu”)

 

3-10. Small Batch Single Malt 12 Years & Under

[Silver] Saburomaru The Magician Cask Strength

[Review] Single Malt Saburomaru ...
It is one that you can feel the strength and richness of the malt more firmly than the normal version.

[Bronze] Sakurao Single Malt Japanese Whisky Cask Strength 

4. Consideration

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 whisky 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 whiskys 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 whisky in Japan” or “This kind of whisky 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 whiskys 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 whiskys, taking advantage of the global boom of Japanese whisky.

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.

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新海 博之

Born July 17, 1981 in Kitahiroshima City, Hokkaido, Japan
After graduating from university, joined NTT Data Customer Service Corporation as a new graduate.
2010: Opened "Azabujuban BAR Shinkai" → 2016: Developed specialty "Yakuzen Curry" → 2018: Opened "Toranomon BAR Shinkai" and in 2019 "Shibadaimon BAR Shinkai" → 2020: Started web media "Japanese Whisky Dictionary".
We will daily communicate the appeal of Japanese whiskey as something we, as bartenders, can do.

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