June 11, 2018
If you're struggling with what to get your dad as a Father's Day gift this year because he's one of those dads who has everything and wants nothing, we've got a unique suggestion.
Pick up a bottle of a new spirit from Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer. Ohishi Whisky isn't made in the traditional way that whisky generally is; from barley, corn, rye, or wheat. Instead it's made from rice, and matured in either brandy casks or sherry casks.
Ancient Distillery, New-style Spirits
Located on Japan's Kuma River, the Ohishi distillery has been around since 1872. The picturesque countryside and fast-rushing waters of the river creates a unique environment and many of the ingredients used to distill Ohishi Whisky are found on site. The water comes from the river and about one-third of the rice used in the distillation process is grown on the property.
Versatile Grain Makes Unique Spirit
Rice is one of the world's most important and versatile food crops, so it makes sense that it's also becoming popular for making beer, rice wine, and spirits.
Fish Used to Keep Weeds at Bay in Rice Fields
There are two kinds of rice used to make Ohishi Whisky; organic “gohyakumanishi” (which translates as "5 million stones") rice. What's absolutely amazing about the way this rice is grown, is that the farmers use fish to control the weeds. Since rice is grown underwater in rice "paddys," it's not easy to control pest plants that crop up in the fields. So the farmers have brought in koi carp to swim around and eat the weeds that grow there.
The gohyakumanishi is blended with another rice grain called mochi rice from Kumamoto Prefecture on one of Japan's islands, before it's fermented and distilled.
Once distilled, Ohishi spirits are placed into some of the 1200 sherry and brandy casks, and allowed to mature.
Japan is perhaps best known for making a spirit called Shochu, a traditional hard liquor, distilled from grains and vegetables like sweet potato, rice, buckwheat, barley and sugar cane. Indeed, the Ohishi distillery has been making sake and shochi for five generations, and has only more recently branched out into whisky.
From Japanese Shochu, to Whisky
The shochu is where Ohishi whisky actually begins. To take rice from shochu and turn it into whisky, first the rice is polished to remove starches. A strain of mold is added, then yeast. After fermentation, the distilled shochu is bottled or may be put into casks. After aging, if the shochu has remained over 40% alcohol by volume, it's legally allowed to be sold as whisky.
There are three kinds of Ohishi whisky available at Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer. Ohishi Japanese brandy cask, Ohishi Japanese sherry cask, and Ohishi Tokubetsu reserve. You'll also see Co-op Exclusive Sherry Cask whisky on shelves too. It's only available in limited quantities so you might want to scoop it up quickly!
So what can you expect when it comes to the taste of Ohishi spirits?
"The Ohishi whisky is velvet on the palate, lingering long and soft on the finish," muses Jonathan Bray of Secret Spirits, the company that imports Ohishi whisky into Canada. "The Sherry is complex and full while the Brandy is aromatic and delicate. It’s exciting to see this style of whisky finally available here."
At Co-op Wine Spirits Beer, we know you want quality products and are also looking for the best value.
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