Not too long ago, the Asian whisky scene—at least from the West’s perspective, was equal parts rumor and curiosity. Apart from Suntory’s Japanese bottlings, very little was available stateside, and whiskyphiles didn’t seem to care. When there are dozens of worthy drams to try from each region of Scotland, the thinking seemed to be, “who needs anything else?”
It’s amazing how fast things change. World whisky, as its known, is the exciting new frontier of the whisky market. Traditional Scotch and American whiskies are booming in Asia, and in a bit of cultural exchange, some of their brands are starting to pop up both on American liquor-store shelves and at spirits challenges, where Asian whiskies have been taking home plenty of awards the last several years. The trickle of Asian whiskies into the American market has yet to become a flood, but there’s still plenty to try. These eight whiskies will give you a good idea of how distinctive, disparate, and delicious Asian whiskies can be.