Friday, May 21, 2010

Rice Whisky?

"Rice Whisky"? I put those inverted commas around the whisky because this is not whisky as we know it: it is 70 per cent malt and 30 per cent rice (Note inserted on 14/9/2015: please see comment below asserting that this should be 30 per cent malt and 70 per cent rice) .

I think it was bottled at Kirin's Fuji Gotemba distillery some time before 2002. I say that because it appears to be labeled as a "Kirin Seagram" whisky and the Kirin-Seagram Ltd. joint venture was renamed as Kirin Distillery Co., Ltd. in 2002.

My first guess was that this was just some sort of shochu with a fancy name but that does not appear to be the case because there is no mention of "koji", which is necessary for shochu production. There are loads of barley shochus and mixed barley and rice shochus, but unmalted barley rather than malted barley is ordinarily used. Instead, the koji breaks down the ingredient into sugars (for an explanation of what the hell koji is, see my brief explanation here or wait for my much better description in my upcoming book!) Anyway, this one has no mention of koji in its ingredients so I am guessing they used a vaguely whisky-like process. What is not clear to me is how they got the sugars out of the rice, if they were not using koji. Presumably, we are not talking about pot stills being used, but a column still?

Anyway, an interesting curiosity.


Anonymous said...

i kno this is very off topic unfortunately im left to leaving you a comment since this bottle seems to be non existent in the internet world.

i have come accross via a gift of a bottle of japanese whiskey

its called Suntory Imperial Whiskey.
i dont kno anything bout it other that theres no info on google bout it. its obviously made buy suntory in japan.
any and all information you might have on it would be much appreciated.
thank you my email is

on a related note i thnk your doin a good job with your site here. looks great keep it up.

camera said...

i think...
it's very dangerous..


Paul Artur said...

What is not clear to me is how they got the sugars out of the rice, if they were not using koji.

In a normal mash with the malted barley, most likely. The enzymes present in malt are capable of converting more starch than is present in the malt itself; this allows the use of a certain percentage of unmalted adjuncts such as rice in beer and whisky making.

Nonjatta said...

Dear Paul
Thank you very much for that. I learned something.
(really enjoyed your site. Not ignorable)

Nonjatta said...

In reply to anonymous, Imperial is a fairly obscure Suntory bottling (about whom there is loads of information on this site). It seems to have been possible to personalise the bottles and it sometimes fetches reasonable prices on auction sites:
It is a blended whisky. Suntory whisky is usually good quality but this is not one of the bottlings that has won any prices. It is an expensively packaged and marketed premium product.

whiskyjapan said...

This is 70% rice, not 30% - also it was made between 1994 and 1997. It is indeed saccharified using malt enzymes.

Chris Bunting said...

Thanks for the comment. I don't have access to my original bottle and so can't confirm an error. I have inserted a note to your comment in the above copy.