Kanpai! Say Cheers with Japanese Whisky

El Gaucho’s sourcing philosophy is to offer the best products the world has to offer. Whisky is no exception, and AQUA and El Gaucho are proud to offer delicious, unique and rare spirits on our menus.

Japanese whiskys are a style of their own and becoming increasingly popular. Yes, a country historically associated with rice rather than grain, saki rather than whisky, has been winning some major awards: Not only has the Hibiki 21 year been chosen as the world’s best blended whisky four years in a row, but Yamazaki Sherry Cask was named “World Whisky of the Year” in Jim Murray’s 2015 Whisky Bible.

A scotch background is helpful to truly appreciate Japanese whisky, since scotches are typically associated with a great diversity of style and flavor. Japanese whiskys are inspired by scotch – Japanese blenders visited Scotland in the early 1900s to perfect their craft. One of their key takeaways was the importance of terrain and water source, to impart distinctive flavors and create a truly unique whisky.

Yamazaki Distillery is the birthplace of Japanese whisky. Established in 1923, it is located near Kyoto, where the Katsura, Uji and Kizu rivers converge, providing a unique misty climate and one of Japan’s softest waters. This area is also where the traditional tea service originated, which is a testament to the great water there. The diversity of this region’s temperature and humidity creates ideal conditions for cask aging, known as the signature “Suntory Maturation.”

Suntory expanded again in a different region of Japan at the Hakushu Distillery in 1973, located in the South Japanese Alps, making it one of the highest distilleries in the world. The forest that surrounds the distillery imparts the wide array of plant varieties in the whiskys produced there.

The two distilleries are completely different, making it hard to generalize the taste profile of Japanese whisky. However, you’ll regularly hear them described as smooth, with light sherry and floral notes, delicate and perfumed with a honey sweetness. Some of the whiskys have been peated to add a smoky note and depth.

Whatever your taste profile, if you haven’t ventured into Japanese whisky, now is the time to kanpai! With seven Japanese whiskys on our menu – including the award winning Hibiki 21 year and the Whisky of the Year Yamakazi Sherry Cask – our team will be happy to steer you in the right direction and introduce you to the world of Japanese whisky. But hurry, with the popularity and curiosity of these unique offerings, they won’t be around for long.

Currently offered on our menus:
Blended Whisky
Hibiki Harmony
Hibiki 12 Year
Hibiki 17 Year
Hibiki 21 Year

Single Malt
Yamakazi Sherry Cask 2016
Yamakazi 12 Year
Yamakazi 18 Year
Hakushu 12 Year
Hakushu 18 Year

Visit us:
AQUA by El Gaucho – 206-956-9171
El Gaucho Seattle – 206-728-1337
El Gaucho Bellevue – 425-455-2715
El Gaucho Tacoma – 253.272.1510
El Gaucho Portland – 503.227.8794


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