Suntory Whisky: Yamazaki, Hakushu & Hibiki

Suntory Whisky launched a new range of whiskies into the Australian market at an elegant soirée held at Sydney’s Art Gallery of NSW with a special tasting led by Hiroyoshi (Mike) Miyamoto, Suntory Whisky Global Brand Ambassador.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

Like coveted museum pieces, various expressions of the Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki were enclosed in glass displays at the gallery as guests were welcomed with Hibiki 12 and Perrier water served in a champagne flute.

The Yamazaki Distillery was established near Kyoto in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii who took his inspiration from traditional Scottish whisky to create a unique style of Japanese whisky based on terroir and climate. He did not set to emulate the Scottish but to create a style that appeals to the Japanese palate, “subtle, refined, yet complex”.

Three expressions were on taste starting with Yamazaki, Suntory’s flagship single malt which has been on the Australian market for some time. Water and the environment contribute to the character of the Yamazaki 12 yo (43% ABV) single malt. On the nose, soft fruit such as peaches and pineapple are prominent with a buttery palate, sweet with a long spice and elegant finish.

Hakushu 12 yo single malt (43% ABV) gets its herbal, earthy and gentle smoke character from its terroir in the forests of Mount Kaikomagatake. Pure waters from the Southern Japanese Alps contribute to its crisp and vibrant taste with pine needle and green apple on the nose. Subtle smoke on the finish makes it a fine dram to sip on any occasion.

Meaning “harmony” in Japanese, Hibiki 17 yo (43% ABV) is a blend of various whiskies including those produced by the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries. Soft fruit is evident on the nose but the palate is rich with toffee and vanilla from Mizunara (Japanese oak) with a sweet and fruity finish.

Following the tasting, a fine selection of canapés by Art Gallery of NSW Head Chef, Kieran Moore was paired to each of the three expressions. Three bars were set up, each offering tastings of two whiskies including the Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve and Hibiki 12 year old.

Yamazaki, which pairs well with grilled food with a hint of sweetness was matched with canapés of short rib of beef marinated in teriyaki sauce followed by Parmesan and herb gnocchi. Hakushu’s smoky single malt complements seafood and citrus notes and was matched with White Anchovies with mint aioli on grilled soda bread, and Smoked salmon risotto with avruga caviar. The complex flavours of Hibiki were matched with canapés of Duck liver parfait, Rare veal on witlof and Seared scallop with passion fruit.

Six varieties of Suntory Whisky will be available in liquor stores, bars and restaurants around Australia from May 2014 at the following recommended retail prices : Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve $80; Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve $80, Yamazaki 12 year old $110, Hakushu 12 year old $110, Hibiki 12 year old $110 and Hibiki 17 year old $150.

The Suntory Whisky launch was held on Monday 19 May 2014 at the Art Gallery of NSW.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.