Launched in Los Angeles in Fall 2015 by Ann Soh Woods, cofounder of Soh Spirits, Kikori Whiskey is unique spirit made entirely from rice. It is distilled, aged and bottled on the island of Kyushu, one of the southernmost islands in Japan. You might be wondering, “Isn’t whiskey usually made from barley, wheat, stuff like that?” Yes, that’s usually the case, but whiskey can be made from any grain, including rice, and Kikori whiskey is a great one.
Whiskies from Japan are incredibly hot right now and global interest in the beverage has exploded over the past few years. Whiskey fans from around the world have come to appreciate the unique, smooth flavors produced in Japan as well as the attention to quality ingredients and pure water. Kikori Whiskey is a newcomer to the liquor market, but it’s already proven itself as a worthy rival and a unique and versatile alternative to the more established brands.
The word “Kikori” translates to “woodsman” in Japanese and was inspired by a Japanese fable about an ancient woodsman named Visu. He is the stubborn protagonist in a cautionary folk tale about life without balance. Working day and night, Visu forsook his friends and family and eventually lost everything. Visu never found his balance in life, but the moral of his story is repeated on every bottle of Kikori Whiskey.
The Taste of Kikori Rice Whiskey
While most traditional Japanese whiskies emulate Scotch in their flavor profiles, Kikori rice whiskey does its own thing. You’ll find none of the peat, smoke or spice common to those styles. Instead, Kikori delivers a distinctively different style of whiskey that is delicate, fragrant and an alternative to its more “peaty” brethren.
Kikori rice whiskey is golden in color and it delivers a smooth, balanced flavor. You will first notice a welcoming floral aroma with hints of caramel, tree fruits and vanilla. On the palate, you will taste notes of melon and toasted almonds, balanced with oak and sherry flavors. Kikori is mild but built with complex flavors and offers a delicate texture and
How Kikori Whiskey is Made
Kikori rice whiskey is distilled from locally grown Japanese rice and mountain water in Kumamoto, Japan. The rice comes from fields anchored in volcanic soil, formed through lava flow and ash deposits. The soil is rich in nutrients, making it the ideal place to grow the rice, considered to be among the finest in the world. The farmers of Kumamoto cultivate the rice with care from a rice paddies located along the Iwase River. This same rice has been cultivated by the people of southern Japan for over two millennia. The groundwater running under Kumamoto is pure as well, adding to the smoothness of
Kikori Japanese Whiskey.
From the fields, the rice is first polished and then begins the meticulous production process. The rice is placed into steel steamers and carefully prepared for distillation by Kikori’s master distiller or touji. Kikori Whiskey is produced in small batches using a high pressure distillation process. This allows Kikori to be distilled at much lower temperatures than other spirits, thereby retaining more of natural flavors and aromas of the grain. The other key to Kikori’s unique and accessible flavor profile is the careful aging process. Kikori matures for 3 to 10 years in three different types of oak barrels American Oak, French Limousine oak and sherry casks from Spain.
Kikori matures for 3 to 10 years in three different types of oak barrels American Oak, French Limousine oak and sherry barrels from Spain. The whiskey absorbs the subtle notes of the barrels brown sugar, raisin, apple—and the combination results in a whiskey that is smooth, flavorful and accessible to spirits fans of all stripes. It is bottled at 82 proof If you’re looking for a whiskey you can enjoy every day or just something with a smooth flavor that won’t wallop you, Kikori Whiskey might be just what you’re looking for.
How to Serve Kikori Japanese Whiskey
While Kikori rice whiskey is oneofakind, it’s not something that you’ll try once and won’t pull out of your closet for years. No, it’s balanced, smooth flavor makes it versatile player, ready for anyand every occasion. The beauty of Kikori rice whiskey is that it can be enjoyed in so many ways. The first time you taste it, you might want to try it neat. This will show you exactly how smooth a whiskey can be. After that, the sky’s the limit. It’s great served over ice or with a splash of water. It mixes well and can serve as the base for any number of cocktails, and not just in traditional whiskey or bourbon offerings. While Kikori whiskey makes a mean Old Fashioned, Manhattan or Whiskey sour, it serves as a great alternative to vodka or gin in many cocktails. The following are just a few examples of both familiar and unique cocktails which can be made with
Recipes You Can Make Using Kikori Whiskey
Due to its clean, smooth flavor, Kikori works really well in mixed drinks. No Kikori review is complete without a look at some of the many delicious concoctions you can make using this beverage. Try out some of the recipes below to experience the flavor that Kikori Whiskey brings to mixed drinks. From the sweetness of vanilla ice cream to the bitterness of coffee, you’ll see that Kikori rice whiskey brings a unique flavor to a wide variety of cocktails.
Kumamoto Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
2oz Kikori Whiskey
Bar Spoon of Simple Syrup (~ 0.20 oz)*
1 dash of Angostura bitters
2 dashes of Scrappy’s Lime bitters
2 dashes of Winship’s Cucumber bitters
Start with your old fashioned glass (about 8oz in size) by added your simple to the glass. Add your bitters starting with Angostura, Scrappy’s Lime, and then Winship’s Cucumber bitters. Stir to incorporate flavors.
Garnish with a grapefruit twist
2oz Kikori Whiskey
1oz Lime juice
¾ oz Simple Syrup*
3 Mint leaves (handclapped to release aroma)
3 Slices of Hothouse (recommended) Cucumbers (sliced about a ¼” thick)
Muddle the cucumbers in your tin, then handclap mint and add in as well. Add all liquid ingredients starting with your citrus, sugar, and finally add Kikori. Add ice cubes and shake vigorously, fine strain into chilled rocks glass with large cube already in glass.
Garnish with a cucumber slice w/ Mint Sprig spiked thru the middle of cucumber
Kikori – Lychee Champagne Cocktail
.5 oz Egg white
.5 oz Lemon juice
.5 oz Rock candy syrup
2 oz Kikori Whiskey
.75 oz Lychee Liqueur
.5 oz Lychee purée
Shake all ingredients and strain into coupe glass. Top off with brut champagne
Garnish with Lychee on a skewer or lemon twist
2oz Kikori Whiskey
1oz Cold Brew coffee
½ oz Agave syrup (3:1 ratio)
½ oz Cream
Freshly grated Nutmeg & Cinnamon
Add all liquid ingredients to your shaker tin starting with the cold brew, cream, agave and finally Kikori. Freshly grate the nutmeg and cinnamon into your shaker then add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into Collins glass, sans ice, and when down pour the remaining ice and froth into your Collins glass. Finish with freshly grated nutmeg & cinnamon.
Freshly grated Cinnamon & Nutmeg
Other Reviews for Kikori Japanese whiskey
Kikori rice whiskey has received numerous accolades since its launch late last year. Many reviewers have touched upon the whiskey’s smooth, bold flavor and its ability to be served in a variety of unique and different ways. Playboy.com listed Kikori as one of the “Best New Bottles of Booze” for 2015 and The Tasting Panel gave it a 96 point rating. More recently, it was awarded a Gold Medal at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
If you’re still unsure about whether to give Kikori whiskey a try, check out some excerpts from reviews around the Internet.
● The folks over at This Girl Walks Into a Bar described Kikor whiskey as “a mild whiskey built with complex flavors.”
● A review at The Minty said Kikori Whiskey “…comparable to something like Glenlivet which makes great cocktails or with just a little ice.” This same reviewer also created infused several desserts and dishes with Kikori, including a brown butter chocolate chip cake that had a buttercream infused with Kikori.
● Danny Jensen at LAist included a drink made with Kikori at LA’s The Roger Room in a list of “6 Bars With Excellent Winter Cocktails To Warm You Up.” As you can see, Kikori Japanese whiskey offers the complexity of traditional whiskey,
but doesn’t bite you back. Reviewers everywhere agree that Kikori is an interesting and welcome entry in the spirits world.
The Final Verdict for Kikori Whiskey
Versatile, smooth, and produced with care, it’s no wonder Kikori rice whiskey is one of the hottest new liquors on the market. If you’re looking for a whiskey with a uniqueness that even those who don’t normally drink whiskey can enjoy, look no further than Kikori Whiskey.
Whether you’re inviting friends over for dinner and want to offer a delicious Kikoriinfused dish or you’re on a date and want to try something new, give Kikori a try.