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Japanese Whisky Backgrounder

Book Review: Drinking Japan

I received a copy of Drinking Japan: A Guide to Japan's Best Drinks and Drinking Establishments by Chris Bunting a few months before I visited the country. The book is useful even if you have no intentions to do so. 

NonameThe majority of the book is reviews of 122 bars in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and other cities. Most reviews are given a full page with pictures. It is divied into sections and bar reviews by the type of drink: sake, shochu, awamori, beer, whisky, and wine. There are also sections in bar etiquette, styles of bars, liquors stores, etc.

There is a lot of great information about the alcohol categories and how each of the types mentioned is produced. There are 16 pages of descriptions of sake's history and production before he gets to the bars in which to drink it, for example. 

I learned a ton about shochu and awamori in particular, but I picked up new information in every alcohol section. For this reason the book is a good reference even if you don't have a Japan visit in the plans. 

As I did end up visiting the country, I came with a wish list of bars and beverages I wanted to try. 

A weak point of the book seems to be in cocktail bars, which is a major area of interest for me. He mentions several in a single page devoted to cocktails in Tokyo and gives a full review of Tender (Uyeda-san's bar), but there are no reviews of Star Bar, Bar High Five, or Ishinohana for example.  

Luckily I'll be writing about some of those here on Alcademics in the next few days. 

You can find out more about the book on and learn about Japanese whisky from Bunting's other site Nonjatta. The book is available on and on other sites.