Japan Feed

Here are some observations about bars in Japan from my trip with Suntory whiskies. You can smoke in bars in Japan. Bars were all a little bit smoky, but none of them I visited were smoky that your eyes hurt. When you enter a cocktail bar and most other types of bars, they give you a hot wet towel to wipe your hands. Even the low-end bars give you a wet-nap version of this. This is lovely and I'd like to see some bars in the US do it. For many bars it's seated customers only. You pop your head... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

On my five-day visit to Japan with Suntory whiskies I hit 21 bars by my count. I am talking about them in groups. Next up: The Rest of Them. The difference between the various styles of bars is subtle and I'm defining them as I see them. I'll be describing whisky bars, cocktail bars, highball and standing bars, and pubs/clubs/dives. This is that last section. Rippongi Nouen is actually a restaurant but it's notable because they serve highballs with flavors like ginger and rosemary. The restaurant has big glass cubes in the back that have (or used to have, can't... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

On my five-day visit to Japan with Suntory whiskies I hit 21 bars by my count. I am talking about them in groups. Next up: Standing and Highball Bars. The difference between the various styles of bars is subtle and I'm defining them as I see them. I'll be describing whisky bars, cocktail bars, highball and standing bars, and pubs/clubs/dives. As far as I can tell, highball bars are all standing bars but I'd imagine there are standing bars that don't specialize in highballs. As you can guess, standing/highball bars are bars in which everyone is standing up drinking at... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

On my five-day visit to Japan with Suntory whiskies I hit 21 bars by my count. I am talking about them in groups. Next up: Cocktail Bars. The difference between the various styles of bars is subtle and I'm defining them as I see them. I'll be describing whisky bars, cocktail bars, highball and standing bars, and pubs/clubs/dives. Many cocktail bars look pretty much like whisky bars, since so many bars carry a massive amount of scotch. Bar High Five is run by Japan's most famous bartender, Hidetsugu Ueno (Ueno-san). It was voted one of the world's 50 best bars.... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

On my five-day visit to Japan with Suntory whiskies I hit over 20 bars. I think the best way to talk about them will be in groups. First up: Whisky Bars. The difference between the various styles of bars is subtle and I'm defining them as I see them. I'll be describing whisky bars, cocktail bars, highball and standing bars, and pubs/clubs/dives. I only hit one or two izakaya places. Whisky bars specialize in whisky, of course. Most of them have a huge range of single-malt scotch whisky (100 different bottles is a start) and also serve whisky highballs. Many... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

Videos of Recharring Barrels at Hakushu Distillery

On my visit to the Hakushu distillery in Japan we watched a guy recharring ex-bourbon barrels. Recharring is when you refresh a barrel by burning the inside of a previously-used cask to give it additional life for aging spirits. In this first video, we watch the recharring process while Mike Miyamoto explains that whisky aged in recharred barrels is more astringent than whisky aged in non-recharred barrels. In this second video, we watch the rechar guy put out the flame with one scoop of water. Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

Yesterday I wrote about visiting the Hakushu distillery in Japan. Today I'll write about Suntory's other single-malt distillery, Yamazaki. It is located between Kyoto and Osaka, at the convergence of several rivers. I believe they said the distillery welcomes 100,000 visitors each year. (Mount Fuji as seen from the train to Kyoto.) The Yamazaki distillery was built in 1923 and launched its first whisky, the White Label, in 1929. That whisky is still made today. The distillery location was chosen because of its water (as are most distilleries), also sought out by Sen no Rikyo, the inventor of the Japanese... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

I visited the Hakushu distillery owned by Suntory, located in the Yamanashi prefecture, about two hours by train from Tokyo in Japan. There is a new Hakushu single malt whisky on the US market. As I mentioned in a previous post, Hakushu was built in 1973 and is located at a high elevation - 700 meters above sea level. (Scotland's highest distilleries are Dalwhinnie and Braeval, both about 355 meters.) On the train ride there, your ears are continually clogging as you change elevation. The distillery is on a large site to protect its water source, and doubles as a... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.