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Issue 89 - Yearning for whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 89
July 2010


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Yearning for whisky

Chris Bunting is a thirty-something British journalist living and working in Tokyo. He runs, a website about Japanese whisky, and spent last year traveling around Japan's distilleries and breweries researching Drinking Japan, a guide to Japanese alcohol culture due to be published Tuttle Publishing at the end of the year.

Anri Suzuki is a Japanese hardcore porn actress who writes beautifully. She recently gained some fame beyond the confines of the great white knuckle ride when anonymous Internet posters in Hong Kong claimed that she had a Phd, had studied the horrific crimes Japan had committed in China in the 30s and 40s, and was so guilty about them that she slept with Chinese men in her private life by way of atonement. It was all poppycock, of course, but the kerfuffle caused in Japan gained Suzuki a wider audience for her often lyrical blog at

What does all this have to do with whisky? Well, a post on May 31, called Akogare no Whisky (”The whisky I yearned for”), summed up better than a hundred over-earnest analyses exactly where Japanese whisky finds itself in 2010.

Suzuki did not have a room of her own when she was a child so she would play in the closet, which at least offered a little a private space for her to daydream, and in there she found a collection of whisky amid piles of bric-a-brac.

To get this into some kind of context, whisky in Japan has always the feel of being something foreign and sophisticated, something outside the reach of a normal Japanese. In the post war period, when it was first associated with foreign occupiers with fat wallets and then took off among businessmen as the archetypal drink of Japan`s economic boom. Millions of gallons of third rate whisky were glugged down by salarymen in the 60s, 70s and 80s but, whil...

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