As per 2021, The Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association has announced a new set of regulations aimed at reducing the number of products that are falsely labelled as ‘Japanese whisky’. Check this excellent infographic from Nomunication to steer clear of fakes and koji whisky. This move has been welcomed by fans of Japanese whiskies, who are looking forward to aligning Japanese whisky standards with other parts of the world.
Currently, the Japanese whisky industry is known for its loose laws and regulations compared to the Scottish whisky industry, which has some of the strictest laws in the world about what’s allowed to be called ‘Scotch whisky.’ However, this is all set to change under the new guidelines that will come into effect this April, clearing up the ambiguity about what makes a Japanese whisky.
Under the new regulations, only malted grains, other cereal grains, and water extracted in Japan are allowed to be used in whisky production, and malted grains must always be used. Fermentation, distillation, and saccharification must take place in a distillery in Japan, and the alcohol volume of the distillate is not to exceed 95% in strength. The maturation of the distilled product must take place only in Japan, in wood casks with a maximum capacity of 700 litres, for a minimum of three years. Bottling must take place in Japan, and the minimum ABV of the whisky must be 40%. Plain caramel colouring is allowed to be added.
Any product not meeting these standards will not be able to use the name ‘Japanese whisky,’ ‘Nihon whisky’ or ‘Japan whisky,’ and they will also be prohibited from using names of people that evoke Japan, names of Japanese cities, regions, and famous places, mountains and rivers, the Japanese flag or a Japanese era name, and any labelling that makes it seem like the whisky satisfies the Japanese whisky production requirements. Japanese whisky brands that do not meet these standards cannot use labelling that evokes Japanese cities, people, events, or other places or ideas associated with the country.
These new guidelines will ensure that Japanese whisky meets international standards of quality and authenticity, we are all looking forward to tasting on some excellent Japanese whisky in the future.
* Photo by Yuri Shirota on Unsplash