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The World's First Japanese-Scottish Whiskey Is Named for a Scottish Samurai

Now that we know there’s a whisky named after a Scottish Samurai, what’s next? We’re thinking of a schnapps named after a Mexican ninja, but we’d be loathe to forget all the hardworking Québécois gauchos with a penchant for baijiu.
Photo via Flickr user Joshua Rappeneker

The distant lands of Japan and Scotland have way more in common than you probably thought. For instance, they both have extremely wide-reaching and powerful aquaculture industries known for producing world-class seafood. They also happen to have whisky distilleries that could wipe the floor with their international contenders. And hell, with a little bit of research, this is probably where we could wax poetic about the striking similarities between Japan's Oda Nobunaga and Scotland's William Wallace.


And now, it seems that these two great nations are putting their talents together—and we have a man known as "the Scottish Samurai" to thank for it.

The Glover is the new whisky that has been named in honor of Scottish merchant Thomas Blake Glover. It is also being touted as the world's first Japanese-Scottish whisky, and was just launched this week simultaneously in Aberdeen and Tokyo.

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Thomas Blake Glover, it turns out, was a Scottish merchant born in 1838. At the age of 20, he went to Japan, where he did a lot of things—like, a lot. He built the first Western-style house in Japan. He traded arms. He founded a shipping company… which later became Mitsubishi. He founded a brewery… which later became Kirin. And, perhaps most intriguingly, he became associated with several rebellious samurai clans, thereby earning his moniker of the "Scottish Samurai." If anyone deserves a whisky named after him, it is certainly this fine gentleman.

The new whisky actually combines "the very best and rarest of Japanese and Scottish whiskies." Alex Bruce—managing director of Adelphi Distillery, which blended the whisky—said, "We also added a drop of whisky from Glen Garioch Distillery in homage to Thomas Glover's home in Aberdeenshire, to complete the flavor profile."

The distillery describes the flavor of the new cross-cultural whisky as "autumn gold, with oak lights; a fresh aroma of peat smoke, seaside, with almonds, green apples, orange pith and honey flapjacks." Wait, they're not done. Also: "Black currants, lingering chimney smoke, maritime; smooth, mellow and sophisticated." That's quite a lot of flavors, wouldn't you say? But it's not everyday, after all, that you taste a Scottish-Japanese whiskey.

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The new whisky will be offered in two versions: one is aged 14 years and will retail at around $110 per bottle, and the other is a 22-year-old, ultra-premium version, which will sell for around $1,100.

Jim Millar, a Scot who devised this project and who previously received awards for promoting the relationship between the two countries, said, "This whisky is an excellent way of acknowledging the life of Thomas Blake Glover and celebrating our important relationship with Japan, which continues to flourish, especially in the fields of trade, culture and education."

Now that we know there's a whisky named after a Scottish Samurai, what's next? We're thinking of a schnapps named after a Mexican ninja, but we'd be loathe to forget all the hardworking Québécois gauchos with a penchant for baijiu.