Whisky production in Japan began around 1870, but the first commercial production was in 1924 upon the opening of the country's first distillery, Yamazaki. Broadly speaking the style of Japanese whisky is more similar to that of Scotch whisky than other major styles of whisky.

Suntory and Nikka are the two best-known and most widely available Whiskies. Both of these produce blended as well as single malt whiskies and blended malt whiskies, with their main blended whiskies being Suntory kakubin (square bottle), and Black Nikka Clear. 

Japanese whisky is consumed either like Scottish whisky or like Japanese shochu. The bulk of Japanese blended whisky is consumed in cocktails, notably as whisky highballs (haibōru) (similar to shōchū highballs, known as chuhai), while fine whisky is primarily drunk straight or on the rocks, as with Scotch whisky. Advertising for blended whisky generally features it consumed in a highball, and highballs made with Suntory's Kakubin are branded kaku-hai.

In addition to soda (in a highball), Japanese whisky is often drunk mixed with hot water o-yu-wari, particularly in winter, or cold water mizu-wari, particularly in summer, as is done with shochu. Whisky is also commonly drunk with food, particularly in mixed drinks, especially highballs. The prevalence of mixing whisky with soda or water is particularly attributed to the hot, muggy Japanese summer, hence the popularity of long drinks.