The Japanese whisky industry is a victim of its own success—let’s hope it doesn’t pull a Subaru. Suntory and Nikka have made more cuts after the well for certain bottles ran dry, with the latter boosting capacity in an effort to meet demand.
The former’s parent, Beam Suntory, is making the most of this shortage with a bourbon that taps into the thirst for all things Japanese. Legent may sound like a failed cologne, but give it a chance. A collaboration between Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe and Suntory chief blender Shinji Fukuyo, it starts out as straight Beam bourbon that’s aged at least four years and finished in wine and sherry casks. Then Fukuyo blends it with other good stuff from the same Kentucky distillery, he tells Esquire’s Jonah Flicker.
Fukuyo is doing what he would back home, where top blenders fuse dozens of whiskies into a single expression. Best of all, Legent goes for just $35*, less than a bottle of Sex Panther.
The rice stuff
Or how about a Japanese whiskey you can’t even buy in Japan? That would be barrel-aged rice spirits, a type of shochu that’s technically illegal in its native land, mostly because it’s too dark, Anthony Delcros of The Whiskey Wash explains.
Luckily, San Francisco–based GRC Imports carries two of these bootleg drams, from the Ohishi and Fukano distilleries in southern Japan. Just don’t expect a bourbon or a single malt, says Delcros, who recommends you bring “a desire for discovery.” Got it.
*All prices in U.S. dollars