My Whisky and Whiskey experience in Sapporo and Scotland

The first time I have tried whisky was in Sapporo, the north island of Japan.

I was sent by the company that I used to work in Tokyo to work at their office in Sapporo for 8 months when I was about 24-25 years old. I loved the life in Sapporo. More than in Tokyo, it is easier to find inexpensive and quality non-franchised restaurants and bars there. What’s more different from Tokyo is that they are super friendly to the first time comers. It creates an open atmosphere to a girl like me.

There is a cafe&bar where I used to go in Sapporo whenever I had time.

The bartender let me try different kinds of whiskies with different types of glasses. The best among what I have tried was Taketsuru. On the other hand, I couldn’t take Wild Turkey at all because it was too smoky for me at the time! I still remember the type of glass which Taketsuru was poured in. It was a tall liqueur glass with a very small lip.

I thought it’s a destiny between me and this whisky, Taketsuru. I simply liked how it tasted, but it was something more. I understood it as Taketsuru waited for me to find it. Yeah, funny girl I was.

However, as I went back to Tokyo after finishing the assigned period and talked to my friends, I found that it is a popular and well-known whisky. Not only me but also everyone else found Taketsuru nice! Especially a TV drama series, which is based on the true story of Mr. Taketsuru who is the founder of Taketsuru, made that whisky even more popular recently. Great! (Damn.)

Anyway, “my” Taketsuru is a whisky.

I came to know later that Mr. Taketsuru had learned how to make whiskey in Speyside, Scotland. And yes, of course me and Ken visited Speyside to try out some distilleries there.

Speyside was such a beautiful place. It was deep green and gray. The pure water in Speyside makes good whiskey, I heard. No wonder why the place is so pretty.

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At the Glenfiddich whiskey distillery, I was moved by the story of a person who was the son (I am not sure the generation) of the founder. He made a world wide trip with a full of whiskey bottles for the advertisements and sales. He sure did not have a comfortable flight or what so ever. How on earth he managed to keep his motivation! I was so touched by the story even before trying Glenfiddich whiskey.

Ok, talking about the taste of the whiskey, of course it was nice. I liked it so much.

We visited another distillery of Glen Moray. There, we tried a limited edition of whiskey which was matured in a cask that was once used in making wine in France. Then I realized that, oh, how well the whiskey makers have to know about alcohol besides whiskey? How possibly those whiskey makers find the casks of this particular French wine?! I thought much more effort was put into whisky making than what I can imagine!

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Did you know that whiskey needs 3-6 years to be matured in casks after the distillation? Though, most of the whiskeis are matured for 8 years to keep the quality as a Scottish brand. This is why the 16 years’ bottles are every pricy.

This is what I heard at those distilleries that they had used sherry casks when people drank lots of sherries back then, and now Jack Daniel casks took over the place. In which alcohol’s cask and for how long to let whiskey mature becomes the key to the taste of the scotch.

When me and Ken went to Cuba and visited the museum of Habana Club, the famous Cuban rum maker, they explained that some of the casks that Habana Club uses are the scotch whiskey’s casks. Wow, such a long travel that the casks face, eh!

Coming back to scotch whiskey, water and the casks are the primal elements to make scotch. Without having other alcohol’s casks, scotch cannot be scotch. That’s like a parasite! World widely loved expensive parasite, which of course I like too.

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I like it after “my” Taketsuru. I don’t know about the others because I never tired. ;P

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