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.

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Suntory Whisky: Yamazaki, Hakushu & Hibiki was last modified: December 20th, 2015 by Corinne Mossati

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Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the founder and editor of Gourmantic. An avid scribe, she has taken pen to paper since the age of five. Her repertoire includes long works of fiction, short stories and travelogues. She is a winner of the GT travel writing competition, has judged the Australasian Whisky Awards and several cocktail competitions. She is also named in the Australian Bartender Most Influential List.