The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

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Page 87 of 148

{ }  87 The Hakushu 12 Year Old Single Malt Japanese Whisky (SRP $60) Since it opened in 1973, the Hakushu Distillery has been dedicated to producing exclu - sively single malt whiskies. The facility is often referred to as the "forest distillery," as it appears to have been carved out of the densely wooded slopes of Mount Kaikomagatake. The site was selected, in part, for its cool, humid microcli - mate and access to soft spring water. Situated in Japan's Southern Alps, the Hakushu Distillery is also one of the highest distill - eries in the world. You're unlikely to find a more pristine setting for making whisky. At one time, the Hakushu Distillery, with its 36 cop- per pot stills, was the largest in the world. Its whiskies are all distilled from malted barley sourced in Scotland and range from non-peated to heavily peated. Fresh from the still, the clear whiskies are matured principally in American white oak barrels, with lesser amounts aged in Sherry casks and Japanese oak. The Hakushu single malt is comprised of malts of various ages, with the youngest being 12 years old, and is bottled at 43% alcohol (86 proof). The 12 Year Old Hakushu Single Malt is simply ter - rific and drinks far older than its age. The pale gold malt has a smooth, medium-weight body and an enticing bouquet of dark chocolate, honey, raisins, vanilla and fresh fruit aromas with a delicate wisp of smoke on the periphery. It's an aromatic masterpiece. The Hakushu Single Malt has a warm entry that patiently reveals a broad palate of spicy, fruity, slightly smoky flavors. The long-lasting finish is decidedly spicy and features an engaging dose of peat smoke. The Hakushu Single Malt is a world-class contender. Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky (SRP $85) It's hard to imagine a whisky with a more appropriate name than the precisely balanced Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky. Everything you need to know about this sensational blend is clearly stated in its name. Suntory's blended Hibiki Harmony is at once harmonious and complex. It is constructed of malt whiskies made at the famed Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries, and numerous grain whiskies produced at Suntory's Chita distillery. The constituent malts are matured in four different types of wood—American white oak, French Limousin oak, Sherry casks and rare Mizunara, or Japanese oak, barrels—for various lengths of time. The blend itself is skillfully crafted by the Suntory Whisky blending team, led by Master Blender Shingo Torii. When asked about creating the Hibiki Japanese Harmony blend, Master Blender Shinji Fukuyo said in a statement, "I envisioned a luminous harmony of flavors and aromas. A pure and simul - taneously complex harmony that was at the core of the blend." The Hibiki Japanese Harmony blend is an 86-proof vacation for the senses—seamless and thoroughly unforgettable. It has a golden/amber appearance, a lightweight, satiny body and a wafting floral and spice bouquet with light smoky notes. Its aromatic signature is meticulously balanced, such that no one aroma is at the forefront. On the palate, the whisky fills the mouth with the flavors of dark chocolate, honey and loads of tropical fruit. The wisps of smoke return in the long, lingering finish. "In what may be the quintessential Hibiki blend, Japanese Harmony leverages key malt whiskies that are the backbone of the Hibiki range (17 Years, 21 Years and 30 Years) and aged in American white oak barrels, sherry casks and Mizunara oak whiskies," says Johnnie Mundell, Suntory Whisky Brand Ambassador. "The Chita grain whiskies complement and com - plete the personality of the malt whiskies." Hibiki Whisky is not only one of Japan's most critically acclaimed blended whiskies, it is among the most prestigious and honored whiskies in the world.

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