A Life-Saving Whiskey of Forests and Caramel

When I first tasted this spirit I was confused because it seemed like a cross between a Japanese whiskey and an American bourbon. Which turned out to be true. But the story of this whiskey is much larger.

Opening with aromas of herbs and meadow grass, this whiskey becomes nicely woody on the palate, with strong caramel overtones persisting through its long finish. It’s made with 100% barley, fermented with koji and yeast, then double pot still distilled in a 100-year-old distillery in Japan. The spirit is aged in 90% virgin American oak and 10% former Bourbon casks, both of which contribute extensively to its flavor and finish.

This amazingly light yet substantial spirit is named after Jokichi Takamine, the Japanese chemist who contributed to developing this type of distillation which uses a traditional Japanese koji mold in parallel with yeast fermentation.

Takamine also isolated epinephrine in 1900, making possible the epi-pen which saves countless lives today. And he is responsible for gifting the first 2,000 of the famed cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin of the Potomac in Washington DC, where the National Cherry Blossom Festival is held each spring.


Takamine Whiskey 8 year old, Honkaku Spirits, Fukuoka, Japan, 81 proof, around $100