Japanese Whiskey's You Must Try for Coming of Age Day
For many cultures and religions around the world, there comes a defining point in a young person’s life where they are first seen as an adult. For the Hispanic community, it is a young girl’s 15th birthday, known as a quinceañera, where they transition to adulthood. For those of the Hebrew faith, their Bar-mitzvah signifies them becoming an adult.
In Japan, there is a celebration known as Coming of Age Day, or Seijin no Hi. This is when anyone who has hit the age of 20 in the previous year becomes an adult. Coincidentally, 20 is also the minimum drinking age in Japan, so the celebration is usually marked by drinking some of Japan’s finest spirits. In honor of this year’s Coming of Age Day, I’ve put together a list of some must-have Japanese Whiskeys to try out and which cigars to pair with them.
Suntory Whisky Toki
Suntory is a massive food and beverage distributor in Japan and is also known to make some of the finest Japanese Whiskies. Among the brand’s most popular, and easiest to find, is Toki, which means time. Toki is a blended malt whisky that combines aged whiskey’s from the three most popular distillers. This combination of different malts, grains, and aging barrels gives Toki a very smooth and complex profile.
Toki has a distinct fruity quality to it. Hints of grapefruit and peppermint blend with touches of spice, ginger, and vanilla for a smooth and subtle profile; a great introduction if you’ve never had a Japanese whisky. Its combination of smooth, subtle notes and a clean finish make this a great whisky to pair with such great cigars as the Joya de Nicaragua Antano Connecticut, or even the new Sobremesa Brulee.
Hakushu is one of the most unique tasting whiskies I’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping. The distillery itself is quite amazing, being located deep in the mountain forests of Mt. Kaikomagatake. The location of the distillery actually plays into the profile and taste of the Hakushu, with its trees and vegetation offering up a unique atmosphere for crafting whisky.
The aroma starts crisp and slightly sweet, with notes of pear and mint. The taste, however, begins with some mango, and then an almost peppermint and smoke-like finish. Its almost as if you are drinking from the freshness of the forest. The first cigar I thought to pair with this is the Southern Draw Cedrus. This cigar has a definitive floral aspect to it that makes this an excellent pairing for fans of earthy and floral tones.
The Yamazaki is the most recognizable, and in my opinion, the best of the Japanese whiskies. In 2003, the Yamazaki 12 became the first single malt Japanese whisky to win a gold medal at the International Spirits awards, dethroning Scotland for the first time. Since then it has become a favorite among Scotch and malted whisky fans around the world.
It is the sweetness of Yamazki that made me fall in love with it. Being a bourbon guy, I prefer a nice, sweet and flavorful whisky and Yamazaki delivered. It offers notes of cranberry, pineapple, and cinnamon combined with a smooth buttery finish to make a sensational whisky from beginning to end. For this pairing, I lit up an H.Upmann 175th. This highly rated cigar has notes of sweetness and leather with a silky aroma and smooth draw, making this a great pairing to celebrate becoming an adult.