Pain in Tain as Japanese whisky says sayonara to scotch

Graphic: Rob 'sayonara' Johnson

Scotch distillers have declared themselves ‘shocked’ and ‘dismayed’ at the decision by Japanese whisky producers to stop padding out their whiskies with Scottish hooch.  

‘This is a disaster,’ said Sandy McCavity of the Scotch Whisky Institute for Networking and Exports (SWINE). ‘We sold millions of litres to Japanese distilleries every year, and now it’s gone. 

‘Admittedly it was galling seeing them rebottle it as Japanese – especially since they could charge twice as much for it as we did. 

‘But now we’ll have to start selling it to the public, who frankly are a lot more choosy.’ 

Gullible rich people

Japanese whisky has become increasingly fashionable around the world, with gullible rich people happy to pay stupendous amounts of money for an averagely good whisky just because they can’t read the label.

Fake Booze ran into Jon Public outside its local branch of Monster of Malt. 

‘I’m a big fan of the Shitake distillery,’ he said. ‘It costs me £80 for something that tastes like a slightly less shit Famous Grouse, but the bottle looks great so I feel cultured and cleverer than my friends.

‘You can’t put a price on that.’

Integrity matters. Ish.

The boom in Japanese whisky, however, has led to stock shortages in Japan, and fraudsters have become ever more blatant.

Last year a French businessman took a strange-tasting bottle of ‘ultra premium Japanese whisky’ to a translator and discovered that the label read ‘enjoy your shochu sucker’.

‘That was when we had to act,’ said Kanyo Fildafosso of the Japanese Spirits Institute (JapSI). ‘It was essential that we protect the good name and integrity of our great drink.

‘Even if half of it was actually scotch.’

A Rum affair

Following Japan’s new ‘purity law’ Scotch producers are keen to see similarly strict rules of origin applied across other spirits categories.

‘It’s essential as an industry that we don’t mislead the public,’ said SWINE’s McCavity. ‘But its also essential that we stitch up the opposition where we can.’ 

SWINE is pushing for rum producers to remove the word ‘rum’ from their bottles on the grounds that it is the same as a Hebridean island and consumers ‘might be expecting something to do with sheep or tweed’  rather than a cane-based alcoholic drink.

‘If they want to keep ‘rum’ on the label, they should show the same respect for provenance as ourselves and the Japanese and grow the sugar cane on Rum itself,’ said McCavity. ‘If they want to keep growing it in the Caribbean, they should have to rename the category.

‘Something like “sticky slave misery piss juice” would work ok.’

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