Japan Officially Recognizes ‘Bourbon,’ ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ as Distinctive U.S. Products


January 14, 2022

Japan recently became the 44th country to officially recognize “Bourbon” and “Tennessee Whiskey” as distinctive products of the United States, according to an announcement by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).  

“This recognition ensures that only Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey that are produced in the United States according to official U.S. standards may be sold in Japan,” Robert Maron, DISCUS Vice President of International Trade, said in a news release. “Japan ranks as the top export market for American Whiskeys. This action will ensure the integrity of these popular spirits products in this critical market.” 

American Whiskey exports to Japan reached $89 million from January-November 2021 (latest data available). Between 2010 and 2020, Japan grew from the fifth-largest export market for American Whiskeys to the top export destination, with American Whiskey exports increasing by nearly 51 percent.   

“This official recognition will help Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey exports continue to expand in this dynamic and growing market,” added Maron. 

In 2015, Japan agreed to initiate a process to extend recognition for “Bourbon” and “Tennessee Whiskey” as distinctive products of the United States. As part of the agreement, the United States initiated a similar process for several products as distinctive products of Japan.  

“We wish to thank the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for their tireless efforts to secure Japan’s recognition of two of America’s distinctive spirits — Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey,” Maron concluded. 

Japan’s recognition of “Bourbon” and “Tennessee Whiskey” as distinctive products of the United States went into effect on December 22, 2021.