Drinks by the Dram Japanese Whisky Advent Calendar – Top 10

Well, here we are once again in that lull period between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Many people, including myself, have been tweeting, instagramming, and posting via other means, about their various advent calendar experiences. So, to wrap up the 24 whiskies from the Japanese Whisky Advent Calendar this year I thought I’d create a write-up on the Top 10 (plus a couple honorable mentions). You can read more details about each whisky entry by clicking on this link: Japanese Whisky Advent Calendar 2018.

This experience introduced me to many new whiskies I had never tasted before – many because they are very limited in the U.S. (or not available at all), and others simply due to cost.  As I scored the daily one-ounce samples on a letter grade scale, I also kept a running list of my favorites and that is what I’m going to share with your now.  Each of these top 10 whiskies scored a “high B” or higher in the daily reviews.

Before getting to the Top 10 list – here are the 24 whiskies tasted in alphabetical order:

Hakushu Single Malt Distiller’s Reserve, Hibiki 17 Year Old, Hibiki Japanese Harmony, Kaiyo Whisky Cask Strength, Kamiki Blended Malt Whisky, Kirin Fuji-Sanroku Blended Whisky, Kura The Whisky, Kurayoshi Pure Malt, Kurayoshi Sherry Cask, Mars Maltage Cosmo, Nikka 12 Year Old, Nikka All Malt, Nikka Blended Whisky, Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky, Nikka Coffey Malt Whiskey, Nikka Pure Malt Black, Nikka Pure Malt Red, Nikka Taketsuru 21 Year Old, Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt, Nikka Whisky From the Barrel, White Oak Akashi Blended Whisky, Yamazaki 18 Year Old, Yamazaki Single Malt Distiller’s Reserve, and Yamazakura Blended Whiskey.

Now to the best, but first, a couple of honorable mentions – that fell slightly below the top 10:  Hibiki Japanese Harmony and Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve were two excellent “solid B” whiskies just outside of that top group.

Top 10 from the 2018 Japanese Whisky Advent Calendar are as follows:

  1. Hibiki 17 Year Old
  2. Yamazaki 18 Year Old (in running for the top spot, but cost makes it just notch below)
  3. Nikka Pure Malt Black (and one of the best values on the list also)
  4. Nikka Taketsuru 21 Year Old
  5. Nikka From the Barrel (another definitive value selection in the Top 10)
  6. Nikka Coffey Malt (readily available and not too pricey)
  7. Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve (really nice, unique dram I’d like to find in the U.S.)
  8. Nikka Coffey Grain (a bourbon-esque Japanese whisky)
  9. Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt (an available solid dram)
  10. Nikka 12 Year Old

As I wrap-up, I thought it would be interesting to share which whiskies received the most interest via Twitter (and Instagram) on the daily updates.  The five most interacted with (in order from highest interaction to lower amongst the 24 whiskies):  Hibiki Japanese Harmony (by a very wide margin over the rest), Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt, Kirin Fuji-Sanroku Blended Whisky, Hibiki 17 Year Old, and Nikka Taketsuru 21 Year Old.

As we approach the end of 2018, I want to take a moment to thank all that have followed along with us on ModernThirst.com, as we have continued our whiskies journey this year.  Hopefully, you have enjoyed our thoughts on different whiskies – and will consider sharing about our site with a friend.  Before we move into 2019, Jeremy and I have developed our own personal top whiskies tasted lists of the year that we’ll share before we ring in the New Year.  Look for it soon here on ModernThirst.com – cheers.


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About Author

Senior Staff Writer, Wes, was born and raised in Darlington, South Carolina and attended college at the United States Air Force Academy. After flying helicopters for the Air Force and teaching at the Air Force Academy, he retired in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado, after twenty years of military service. He now works in public school education, is married with three children, and leads the monthly Proper Pour Whisk(e)y Club. You can follow him on Twitter @WesModernThirst and e-mail him at Wes@ModernThirst.com.

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