London, Apr 27 : Forget Scotch whisky, for the alcoholic beverage making to the top is Japanese whisky.
Yoichi 20 years old, distilled on the shores of the Sea of Japan, has become the first variety produced outside Scotland to win the coveted single malt award in an international competition run by Whisky Magazine, the main industry publication.
The whisky, distilled near the city of Sapporo on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, beat dozens of other varieties, including last year's winner, Talisker 18 years old, produced on the Isle of Skye.
Suntory Hibiki scooped the award for the world's best-blended whisky.
The decision to give the top prize to Yoichi followed a blind tasting of more than 200 of the world's finest varieties by a panel of 16 of the world's leading whisky experts.
"Japanese whiskies performed magnificently and they are really starting to make waves," Times Online quoted Rob Allanson, editor of Whisky Magazine, as saying.
Tetsuji Hisamitsu, chief blender at the Yoichi distillery, said he was "very moved" by the award.