As Japanese whisky makers enjoy their time in the worldwide spotlight, more and more people are waking up to the reality that Japanese consumers may also know a thing or two about the ways to drink Japanese whisky. Of course, there's the izakaya staple whisky highball, but if you dig a bit deeper, you'll discover there are plenty more interesting ways that Japan drinks their country's whisky.
A common theme you'll find about all these choices: one way or another, you add water to the whisky! Japan generally has no hang-ups about putting water in whisky. If you want to drink Japanese whisky like a local, I suggest you give these a try.
In this 10-part series, we dive into each different serving style.
Japan has recently been getting hotter as we approach the summer. Tokyo itself is known for its humidity even when compared to other cities within Japan. So this week we're drinking the coldest and most refreshing serving style: the Mist.
You can probably count whisky drinks that use crushed ice on one hand. There's the Kentucky Derby staple Mint Julep. Then there's its citrusy cousin, the Whisky Smash. Also, the Scotch Mist. There's a crushed ice version of the Rusty Nail called a "Rusty Mist" here in Japan. And... that's it? That's all I know anyway.
In Japan, whisky+crushed ice is simply called a "Mist." For the past few years, Suntory has been pushing this Mist style as a serving suggestion for Hakushu. Hakushu is one of the more subtle and delicate Japanese whiskies, with an earthy/green tone -- it's nicknamed the "Forest Distillery" after all. That woodiness pairs well with some crushed ice!
Like we saw for the whisky highball, the Beam Suntory marketing machine is again on full blast for the Mist. A couple years back there was a very prominent campaign for Jim Beam here in Japan where the TV ad segments featured none other than Leo (yes, that one) and Rola. The commercials even have the standard Japanese ice ball detonating into chunks of crushed ice! In a bizarre coincidence, Leo has allegedly been to a club called "Whisky Mist" in London.
Back to the point, using crushed ice cools the whisky and your glass significantly faster than using regular ice. In Japan's humid and hot summers, this can make the difference between a whisky drink that's cool and refreshing vs. a whisky drink that just leaves you wanting a glass of water. Let's have a Mist, Hakushu style!
Whiskey Richard is the founder of nomunication.jp, and has been saying he has lived in Japan for ten years for the past four years. He enjoys drinking basically anything except straight-up Campari.