Standards for Labeling
“Japanese whisky”

New Labeling Standards

On February 16, 2021, the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association made an announcement of Standards for Labeling Japanese whisky (hereafter referred to as the "Labeling Standards"). The Labeling Standards have been instituted by the association members themselves, including Nikka Whisky, as an internal rule to define “Japanese whisky”, effective from April 1, 2021.

The background behind setting the Labeling Standards is as follows (quoted from the official announcement from the association). 

“By clearly defining what “Japanese whisky” is and making that information available to the public in Japan and abroad, we aim to clarify the confusing situation for the consumers.”
Click here for the message from the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association.

Nikka Whisky’s Response

As members of the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association, Nikka Whisky and its parent company Asahi Breweries (Tokyo, Japan) will follow the Labeling Standards and support any initiative that provides further clarity to our valued customers when selecting their whisky.

Though our current labeling is not affected by the Labeling Standards, we have decided to provide further information for individual products on our website to clearly distinguish between products in Nikka Whisky’s line-up, which contains both whiskies that are defined as “Japanese whisky” according to the Labeling Standards, and those that do not meet all the criteria. We feel this is an important step towards ensuring customers clarity so as that they can reasonably decide which products to buy and information will be updated if the status changes.

Nikka’s Whisky-making

Since the foundation in 1934, we have been producing whisky and continuously seeking ways to further diversify the style of whiskies by experimenting with different combinations such as yeast strains, fermentation periods, distillation methods, barrel types, and aging conditions.

Blending skills have also been developed since the foundation and remain a core philosophy of Nikka’s whisky-making practices today. The unique formula of each product is created by Nikka blenders, by selecting whiskies from the vast variety that Nikka Whisky reserves including whiskies produced both in-house and overseas, to achieve an ideal taste profile.

Nikka Whisky will continue to pursue ideal taste profiles and consistency.

Nikka Whisky will continue to offer a wide variety of whiskies with unique taste profiles to satisfy whisky aficionados around the world.

Outline of the Labeling Standards

A whisky that satisfies all the requirements in the below table can be labeled "Japanese whisky".

The Labeling Standards apply to whiskies sold by the association members both in Japan and overseas markets.

Term Production Method Quality Requirements
"Japanese whisky" (or "Japanese whiskey") Raw ingredients Raw ingredients must be limited to malted grains, other cereal grains, and water extracted in Japan.
Malted grains must always be used.
Production method Production Saccharification, fermentation, and distillation must be carried out at a distillery in Japan. Alcohol content at the time of distillation must be less than 95%.
Aging The distilled product must be poured into wooden casks not exceeding a capacity of 700 liters and matured in Japan for a period of at least 3 years thereafter.
Bottling Bottling must take place only in Japan, with alcoholic strength of at least 40% as of such time.
Other Plain caramel coloring can be used.

Click here for Standards for Labeling Japanese whisky.

We appreciate your kind understanding and continuous support.