The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2016

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Page 39 of 148

january-february 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  39 S untory Whisky is subtle and refined, yet complex," explains Mike Miyamoto, Global Brand Ambassador for Suntory whiskies. Miyamoto's long history in the whisky business is in blending and production management, and his description of the whisky is technical, not marketing speak. And Hibiki Japanese Harmony, the new blended Japanese whisky from Suntory, clearly embodies all three of these elements. Single malt whiskies have been very popular for decades now, and Suntory offers very fine examples. However, almost from its founding in the early 1920s, Suntory has specialized in the art of blending whisky, the goal being to assemble whisky that is full of personality, but is sophisticated and does not shout. Hibiki Japanese Harmony shows the advantages of this approach. It is satisfying and interesting whisky, whether served neat or chilled over ice. But Harmony is equally convincing in a wide-range of cocktails, and with food. Beam Suntory demonstrated this at a tasteful, yet playful, event in San Francisco this past fall. Local bartenders and som- meliers experienced Hibiki Japanese Harmony unadorned but also, perhaps more important, in four wildly different cocktails. Each cocktail expressed a season and was paired with a bite of food prepared by Chef Ken Tominagu of Pabu, an izakaya restaurant run in partnership with Michael Mina. "Kanzen" or complete, Hibiki Japanese Harmony is a well- orchestrated blend designed to evoke rich flavors and aromas and represent the harmony that exists between Japanese nature and its people. A fine-tuned blend of the finest whiskies to come out of the House of Suntory portfolio, Hibiki Japanese Harmony is a symphony of at least ten malt and grain whiskies, aged in five different casks from Suntory's premiere distilleries: Yamakazi, Hakushu and Chita. Led by third-generation Master Blender Shingo Torri and fourth Chief Blender Shinji Fukyo, Hibiki Japanese Harmony whiskies develop flavor through a grain base aged in American white oak, followed by aging in Mizunara (Japanese Oak) and sherry casks. The flavor is further developed by the addition of grain whisky from the Chita distillery. While Hibiki Japanese Harmony is indeed well-suited for cock- tails, it calls for the Japanese classic, a hand-carved ice ball. Hakushu 12 Year Old: Concentrated with deeper notes: basil, pine needle, green apple and kiwi among them. An Elevated Spirit: Hakushu Hakushu was the second distillery founded by Suntory, 50 years after the first. Focused on the production of single malt whisky, its unique and beautiful location leaves an impression not just on visitors, but the products themselves. One of the world's highest-elevation distill- eries, its alpine water is among the softest available to any whisky producer. The altitude and gentle water seem to give the whisky a dis- tinct lightness evident in the flavors, mouthfeel and gentle finish. Hakushu offers four whiskies. Lightly smoky and fresh, these spirits often show notes of green fruits and herbs. Mike Miyamoto, Global Brand Ambassador for Suntory whiskies. " Hakushu 18 Year Old: The color, roundness and subtle complex- ity of well-aged whisky. Jasmine, dried herbs and more mature fruits, such as mango and ripe pear, are featured.

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