I went for a lesser known distillery, White Oak, against one of Japan’s whisky giants, the Nikka Distillery. For Japanese whiskies, these are very affordable - the Akashi from White Oak comes in at less than $40, although production is small, and the Taketsuru from Nikka is considered an entry level whisky for Japan at under $70. While the Taketsuru is richer, I think they both offer a harmonious whisky, where no one flavor takes over the others.
What I knew: blended whisky, 80 proof
What I discovered: Of the two whiskies, this was lighter, very grassy and earthy on the nose. It had a woodsy, mossy, meadow type taste mingled with honey, lemon, orange, and floral. With a hint of smoke to it, I taste the Scotch tradition, but still feel it has its own flavor. A refreshing walk in the woods.
What I knew: Malt whisky blended from several different distilleries, 86 proof
What I discovered: This had a heavier taste, with a hint of smoke, but something else – like coal. If the Akashi is more like licking wood or moss, this is more like licking rocks. In all the complimentary ways I mean by that. The sips had a charming way of opening up on the tongue like a bouquet of soft flavors- sweet, floral, lemon, and faint smoke.