Japanese Whisky Reviews

Junenmyo Half Decade Review: An Excellent Whisky To Light The Way Towards A Great Drinking Experience

Junemyo Half Decade Whisky is a smoky, gamey delight.

The popularity of Japanese whisky continues to rise, which has led many breweries to come out with rare editions that reflect local culture. The Wakatsuru Saburomaru Distillery, based in Hokuriku, did exactly that with the Junenmyo Half Decade whisky.

With the whisky presented as an extension of the region, it’s made it difficult for whisky fans to get their hands in the Junenmyo outside of Hokuriku. But I managed to track a bottle down in London at Moto, a specialist sake bar that sells rare Japanese drinks.


The Wakatsuru distillery is the only brewery in Hokuriku and has been producing whisky since 1952. The brewery has gone through trials and tribulations, such as the 1953 fire that burned down a total of six buildings. But the brewery was able to reinvent itself into a powerhouse of craft whisky through constantly challenging the notion of what makes fine tipple.

The brewery poured their heart and soul into the creation of a whisky that celebrates their heritage and local story. Junenmyo is a region nearby the distillery that has a history of producing oil for lamps. In the past, people living in Junenmyo cultivated canola flowers and the oil would be used for lights that would help to guide people through dark nights and bad weather.

The whisky is a blended variety that features selected heavy peated malt from Scotland and contains over 50% of malt whisky. Aged for five years, the Junenmyo is bottled at 40% ABV.

Tasting notes

Smoky and heady, the whisky is as warming as the story that inspired its name. A musky aroma rises and unfurls in the nose. A potent hit of woodiness comes in on the tongue, creating a moreish mouthfeel. Notes of spiced oak, cinnamon, sancho pepper and wasabi burn in a cauldron of wonderful flavour.

The initial ruggedness of the Junenmyo is offset by subtle fruity notes. Notes of pear and grape make themselves known gradually, becoming more powerful with every sip.

The Junenmyo Half Decade is the kind of whisky that will light the way towards an exceptional drinking experience. Smooth, gamey and packed with flavour, it’s a must-have bottle for any fan of Japanese whisky.

The Junemyo Half Decade goes well when paired against shochu.

ABV: 40%

Japanese Cuisine · Japanese Whisky Reviews

Suntory Toki Review: A Timeless Japanese Whisky

Japanese whisky features some of the most diverse flavours that I’ve ever tasted from alcohol. In fact, it’s the Japanese variety that has become my gateway into the whisky world. From the fiery punch of Hibiki Harmony, to the milder, sweeter taste of Akashi Tai White Oak Red, I’ve enjoyed making my way through several blends.

Another whisky I’ve been able to tick off my list recently is Suntory Toki. An interesting type of blended whisky, Toki has a mix of flavours that stand the test of time. Continue reading “Suntory Toki Review: A Timeless Japanese Whisky”

Japanese Cuisine · Japanese Whisky Reviews

Akashi Tai White Oak Red Review: Gloriously Sweet And Easy To Drink

Akashi Tai White Oak Red review

Japanese whisky features a range of unique tastes that sets it apart from Scotch and Irish. Whether it’s the fiery punch of Hibiki Harmony or the more subdued flavour of Nikka Coffey Grain, Japan knows how to produce a damn good drink.

Some of the best alcoholic drinks are the ones that take you by surprise and challenge how you thought they were going to taste. This was the case when I had a glass of Akashi Tai White Oak Red. Continue reading “Akashi Tai White Oak Red Review: Gloriously Sweet And Easy To Drink”

Japanese Cuisine · Japanese Whisky Reviews

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Review: Slow Burn Sweetness At Its Finest

In an effort to broaden my understanding of Japanese culture, I’ve taken to sampling different types of Japanese alcohol. The brewing methods involved in Japanese alcohol are elegant, refined and complex, contributing towards some of the most multifaceted drinks on the market. This sophisticated brewing process is at the heart of why so many different types of Japanese whisky have become popular with western consumers.

Next on my list of Japanese whisky reviews is Nikka Coffey Grain. Made it the innovative Coffey Still that was developed by Aeneas Coffey in 1830, this type of whisky has an exquisite slow burn texture that is perfect for enjoying while sitting in an armchair in front of a roaring fire. Continue reading “Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky Review: Slow Burn Sweetness At Its Finest”

Japanese Cuisine · Japanese Whisky Reviews

Suntory Chita Single Grain Whisky Review: A Zesty Drink For A Younger Generation

Suntory has established itself as one of the greatest producers of whisky on the planet. The brand has a versatile portfolio, which ranges from fiery beverages like Hibiki Japanese Harmony, to smoother drinks like the Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve. Sampling new styles from Suntory has become something of a hobby for me and the latest whisky that I’ve tried is the Suntory Chita single grain. Refreshing, smooth and potent, this whisky is ideal for sipping during summer. Continue reading “Suntory Chita Single Grain Whisky Review: A Zesty Drink For A Younger Generation”

Japanese Cuisine · Japanese Whisky Reviews

Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve Whisky Review: Herbal Freshness For The Win!

When it comes to Japanese whisky, Suntory is the undisputed king of consistency. Over the years, the brewing giant has created countless blends that have delighted consumers around the world. Western drinkers can’t seem to get enough of Suntory’s attention to detail and craftsmanship. All of their whiskies are brewed with care, and one of the most impressive variants is the Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve whisky. Continue reading “Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve Whisky Review: Herbal Freshness For The Win!”

Japanese Cuisine · Japanese Whisky Reviews

Hibiki Japanese Harmony Review: A Fireball Of Flavour With Subtle Notes Of Sweetness

Japanese drink making is revered for its attention to craftsmanship and detail. With each year, more and more western consumers are becoming interested in sampling the elegance of Japan’s finest beverages. Japanese whisky is an excellent example of the western world’s craving for unique flavours.  

Brands like Suntory and Nikka have been able to capitalise on this opportunity by introducing a range of whiskies to the UK, Europe and America.  As a newbie to the world of Japanese whisky, I’ve begun to explore different blends and one that has stood out is Suntory’s Hibiki Japanese Harmony blend. Continue reading “Hibiki Japanese Harmony Review: A Fireball Of Flavour With Subtle Notes Of Sweetness”