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Spirits

Japanese whisky wins coveted ‘best in the world’ title over Scotlandish brands

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Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 beat out all other whiskies, including those from Scotland. (Yamazaki)

A Japanese malt whisky has been ranked as the best in the world, beating out Scottish brands, which didn't make it into the top five.

Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 was bestowed the honor by the prestigious Jim Murray’s World Whisky Bible, an annual whisky guide compiled by writer Jim Murray, who gave it a 97.5 points out of 100.

The Daily Mail, which received an advance copy of the book, reports that Murray calls the Single Malt from Japan a “work of near incredible genius” and his ranking should serve as a “wake up call” to the Scotch industry.

“Where were the blends which offered bewildering layers of depth? Where were the malts which took you on hair-standing journeys through dank and dingy warehouses?” Murray laments about the Scottish whisky industry.

Yamazaki, Japan's first whisky distillery, was built in 1923 after World War I.  It was headed by Masataka Taketsuru, known for introducing Japan to the Scottish whisky process, when he'd gone there to study.

Since then, it's grown to be a favorite among whisky aficionados. 

Duane Sylvestre, head bartender at Washington, D.C.'s Bourbon Steak restaurant, credits Japanese ingenuity for the spike in delicious new whiskies.

"They're coming out with great tasting whiskies at younger ages. Whisky is being crafted on flavor profile, not just age and its just a really great product," Sylvestre told FoxNews.com

"They’ve defined what a Japanese whisky is and it's not regulated by traditional Scottish rules."

Those Scottish rules include aging the spirit in oak barrels for at least three years.

Though Murray brandished Scottish distilleries for "taking their eye of the ball," Sylvestre says that the scotch industry has room for many interpretations of the prized spirit.

"I think you'll see some of the more progressive Scottish distilleries experimenting with new flavors and techniques... not following what the Japanese are doing but trying to do their own."

"Age is becoming less of a factor and its more about if it just tastes good," he continued. 

Murray, who personally sampled nearly 1,000 whiskies out the the 4,500 judged, believes Japanese whisky makers are inching closer to achieving a perfect blend of the beloved spirit. 

The top prize for best European whisky went to Chapter 14 Not Peated, an English company.

Only 18,000 bottles of Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 were released, and each bottle currently goes for around $160. The 2015 edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible will be available next week.