Back in 2021, we learned that Sakurao Brewery & Distillery planned to go “fully legit,” using only grain and malt whiskies distilled in-house across their entire lineup. The company is now delivering on that promise.
In an announcement posted on their site on July 4, Sakurao B&D said they will release revamped versions of all four current blended Togouchi expressions on September 1, 2023. Those four will be:
- Blended Japanese Whisky Toguchi Premium
- Blended Japanese Whisky Toguchi Sake Cask Finish
- Blended Japanese Whisky Toguchi Beer Cask Finish
- Blended Japanese Whisky Toguchi Peated Cask Finish
While it might take a while for these bonafide Blended Japanese Whisky Togouchi bottles to supplant stocks of the not-fully-Japanese stuff in overseas markets, it’s great to see the company going in this direction. The prices are not yet listed, but I presume they will be priced as genuine Japanese whiskies accordingly.
That infographic I made in 2018 lists Toguchi as a fake Japanese whisky. In the interim, several things happened:
- The JSLMA announced their standard for Japanese whisky.
- A ton of new distilleries have come online, making bonafide Japanese whisky, both malt and grain. I’ll point to the Japanese Whisky Yearbook–translated by me–as the definitive guide for those.
- The overseas market is now even more flooded with whisky that wants to be Japanese, either by claiming so directly or implying it through labeling/branding. Keeping pace with that and updating the infographic is not practical.
- Koji whisky is now a thing, and I went down the Dr. Takamine rabbit hole.
- Me dubbing certain whiskies “fake” rubbed some people here in Japan the wrong way. Some of those people could blow it out of their asses. Others are makers I want to maintain professional relationships with.
This culminated in me no longer updating the infographic. Instead, I’ve peddled back and published a list of red flags to watch for should you be in the market for genuine distilled-in-Japan, per-Japanese-law/JSLMA standard Japanese whisky.
In terms of global whisky supply, genuine Japanese whisky is still dwarfed by the likes of Scotch, Irish, and American whiskies. If there’s one thing many whisky fans appreciate, it’s scarcity.
Hi there! I created and run nomunication.jp. I’ve lived in Tokyo since 2008, and I am a certified Shochu Kikisake-shi/Shochu Sommelier (焼酎唎酒師), Cocktail Professor (カクテル検定１級), and I hold Whisky Kentei Levels 3 and JW (ウイスキー検定３級・JW級). I also sit on the Executive Committees for the Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition and Japanese Whisky Day. Click here for more details about me and this site. Kampai!