2020 should be a big year for Japanese whisky. Let's take a look at what we can expect to happen this year -- the year of the rat! It should be a very exciting one.
Japanese Craft Whisky Distilleries Hit Maturity
The biggest story of 2020 may be that we have multiple Japanese craft whisky distilleries hitting the 3-year maturity mark. Shizuoka Distillery. Akkeshi Distillery, and Mars Tsunuki Distillery are all slated to release their first single malt whiskies this year. And just last month Asaka Distillery released their first single malt whisky. Nagahama Distillery and of course Chichibu Distillery are also well positioned to get their single malts on shelves as well.
Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition Gets Refined
2019 was the first ever Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition. It's back for 2020, but this time around the rules for Japanese whisky are more stringent. The 2020 competition will also feature a new category for shochu, Japan's native spirit!
Japanese Whisky Festival
Another new festival from the very busy team at the Japan Whisky Research Centre. To my knowledge, this is the first whisky festival in Japan that's specifically oriented towards Japanese whisky. This one is slated for April 12 -- I'll be bringing you more details on this soon.
Japanese whisky standard
The Japan Whisky Research Centre will this year be establishing the Japanese Whisky Association, a Japanese parallel to the Scotch Whisky Association. The goal is clear: establishing an industry-respected definition of "Japanese Whisky" so we can clean up the mess we currently have.
It's a red-hot topic, and I'll be doing my to keep the conversation going. Stay tuned as I should be able to bring you more details about this new Japanese Whisky Association later this month.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Although not exactly whisky-related, people around the world will be focused on Tokyo this summer for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Like many Olympics, Tokyo 2020 has its own share of scandals, ballooning budgets, and even a relocation of one of the biggest events to a place that's over 800km from Tokyo. But I'm still looking forward to it!
Of course I'll do my best to welcome visitors from overseas: I am preparing a handy Tokyo Olympics Drinking Guide with all of the basics you'll need to go out and have some drinks while you're here!
What are you looking forward to in 2020?
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.