Fuji Single Grain Whisky Makes For Flawless Winter Drinking

Fuji Single Grain Whisky Makes For Flawless Winter Drinking

Randy Lai
Randy Lai


Fuji Single Grain

In the unlikely event you’ve been living under a rock this past decade, and have completely missed Japanese whisky’s remarkable ascension on the world stage (the Australian market for the stuff has grown a whopping 30.7% this year alone) then, this winter, why not make it a point to try a top-shelf example? Albeit one which does things a little bit differently. 

Crafted exclusively with grain spirit, amid the icy tranquility of the (award-winning) Fuji Gotemba Distillery, Fuji Single Grain Japanese Whiskey is of superlative craft, pitched at a price point all drinkers will be able to enjoy. 

A perfect addition at home now that the mercury has begun to plummet, it uniquely draws on a trifecta of pure grain whisky- each individually made in the Scotch, Canadian, and American tradition. 

Singularly Japanese in origin, but with a global grasp on flavour; this signature expression from the blenders and distillers at Fuji Gotemba is in world whisky’s vanguard – a style that, even rubbing shoulders with its Western counterparts, comes across as deliciously different. Full of mellow autumnal fruit and the kind of richly layered flavours that cold weather is made for.  

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From Mountain Rock, Into Your Rocks Glass

Fuji Single Grain

Spirit brands often talk in exaggerated language about the ‘pristine environment’ in which their elixirs come to life; but at Fuji Gotemba, excellence in terroir is so crucial as to be practically unavoidable – existing in the stills, water and the distillery’s iconic mountainside location. 

Originally built by the Kirin Brewing Company in 1973, Fuji Gotemba pitches its proverbial basecamp at a height 610 metres above sea level. This elevation has contributed to  “an ideal microclimate”: where high humidity, temperatures averaging 13℃ and water purified by towering rock escarpments join together to impart a profound effect on the Fuji  ‘house style’. 

The quality of water here (something Japan’s greatest distillers prize, as a result of their training in Scotch whisky) simply cannot be overstated. In a process that can take upward of 50 years, the snowcaps of Mt. Fuji melt gradually; supplying water filtered by the mountain’s volcanic surfaces to an aquifer deep below the distillery. 

According to Jota Tanaka, Master Distiller & Blender at Fuji Gotemba , this “mother water” – as the distillation team call it – is integral to achieving the precise balance and interplay of flavours that has helped the Single Grain bottling win critical acclaim (most famously at the International Spirits Challenge 2020).

Global Flavours, Japanese Soul

Of course, when it comes to Fuji’s library of world-class whisky expressions, Tanaka-san is modest about the significance of his own role – the final element in an equation that results in delicious spirits of quality, and crucially, much personality.

That the Single Grain cribs so expertly from the best aspects of North American whiskey isn’t all that surprising – once you learn more about Tanaka’s background. An industry legend with decades of practical wisdom under his belt, Tanaka initially trained at UC Davis in oenology: before going on to work in a number of stints across the US, most notably in Kentucky. 

Recognised by Whisky Magazine for his tireless and “lasting contribution to the whisky world” inducted into the Icons of Whisky Hall of Fame, Tanaka folds his firsthand affinity for Bourbon and Canadian grain whiskies into the more delicate, proto-Highland style commonly associated with Japan. And despite no legal obligation to do so, Fuji even brands its Single Grain Whiskey using the Americanised spelling – in recognition of the involvement of U.S. beverage giant Seagrams, who helped Kirin to get Fuji Gotemba up and running in the 1970s.

All of this groundwork will give Aussie drinkers a high-quality Japanese single grain that has benefited (stylistically speaking) from having ventured into the world. All maturation of the Single Grain Whiskey occurs inside ex-bourbon casks of American oak, with bottling at 46% ABV; and the result is a whiskey that brings Yankee and Japanese spirit lovers closer together. 

Bold but balanced, Tanaka has succeeded in crafting a bottling that reflects the broadening of tastes in whiskey appreciation: whether as a cheeky nip to warm your cockles, or stirred into a classic cocktail shared around the fireplace, Fuji Single Grain Japanese Whiskey offers the smooth, palate-coating mouthfeel of a classic Japanese dram; detailed with flavours that are a must-have for drinkers who love their Bourbon.

With a front palate of baking spice and fruit preserves, and a medium length finish that settles on Terry’s chocolate orange; this is classic, crowd-pleasing stuff. Enjoy it neat or with a generously portioned chunk of ice, over steak; dry-aged fish; or even a slice of your preferred fruit pie. But whatever you do: stock up this winter. 

Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].



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