Kit Kat is known around the world, but in Japan, the Kit Kat culture is on a whole different level. While most Kit Kat audiences have access to the classic milk chocolate, white chocolate, and maybe a wild seasonal flavor like blueberry muffin or key lime pie, overseas consumers have year-round access to Kits Kat flavors like matcha milk, purple sweet potato, and cherry blossom. Though Kit Kats have been a favorite among chocolate enthusiasts young and old, in the past few years Kit Kat has been carving out a niche for premium, mature, sophisticated candy.
Since the chocolate brand’s master pâtissier, Yasumasa Takagi, came aboard in 2003, he’s been the creative force behind Kit Kat’s line of boutique chocolates for adults, Takagi tells The New York Times Magazine. Some of these luxury bars go the decadence route, with ornate confectionary decorations to rival a plated dessert. But lately, Takagi has taken a special interest in refining the bars to be more sophisticated in taste and presentation, dialing back the sweetness to spotlight the natural flavors of specially sourced cacao. Takagi’s black-and-gold packaged Chocolatory Sublime Bitter Kit Kat evokes images of a high-end cigarillo, and Sublime Volcanic uses premium chocolate grown in volcanic soil on islands in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and the Philippines. Although these chocolates are intended for a more mature, refined palate, the newest addition to the luxury Kit Kat roster features a flavor that caters exclusively to an adult audience.
Though chocolate and alcohol is not a new combination, Nestlé Japan has introduced a new premium Kit Kat infused with the flavors of whisky barrels. This premium candy starts with a base cacao sourced from Ghana. The mellow taste of this rare cacao allows the cocoa nibs to blend well with complex flavors after 180 days of barrel aging (via Sora News24). Contrary to other alcohol-infused chocolate, this Kit Kat doesn’t contain a drop of liquor, instead, the chocolate gets all its flavor from aging in Islay scotch barrels. Scotch is already distinguished by a smokey, leathery, tobacco-y taste, but Islay scotch is renowned for its intensely peated whiskies. These whisky-barreled Kit Kats retain all the flavors and aromatics of an Islay scotch, with a nose of intense floral notes, a smoky, sweet body, and a salty coastal breeze finish. In tandem with the bitter dark chocolate, the whisky flavors harmonize perfectly for “adults who can enjoy the delicate aroma and taste of whisky,” per Sora News24.
Another distinctive element of this premium Kit Kat is the packaging. Unlike its mainstream predecessor, this Kit only has one Kat! These single-serve delicacies are adorned in a sleek amber and charcoal wrapper inside a case that’s reminiscent of a cigar box made of a barrel stave. This candy radiates sophistication from the moment you see the packaging to the very last bite, an athletic flavor perfectly in tune to deliver a premium Kit Kat experience.
It may seem like an unlikely combination, but the blend of Japanese candy and Scottish whisky cultures actually makes sense given the two nations’ industrial relationship throughout history. Though Kit Kat started in the U.K., Japan’s obsession with Kit Kat varieties prompted the subdivision of Nestlé to develop more unique flavors, to the point where novelty Kit Kats have become a quintessential part of visiting Japan.
In the mid-1800s, Scotland sent developers and engineers to Japan to assist with its industrialization. Reciprocally, Japan sent citizens to Scotland to foster diplomatic relations and learn about western heritage, especially whisky. When Masataka Taketsuru ventured to Scotland in 1918 to study in scotch distilleries, he learned all about the methods, equipment, and environments necessary to make scotch whisky. Upon his return to Japan, he facilitated the development of a handful of Japanese whisky distilleries designed to emulate the distilling and aging practices of Scotland. Ever since, he has been widely regarded as the father of Japanese whisky (via Nikka Whisky). As a result, it probably shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Kit Kats — which are Japanese candy royalty — found common footing with scotch whisky, especially given the fact that both are delicacies that have been adapted and beloved by Japanese culture.