Suntory Whisky with Mike Miyamoto at Grain Bar

To whisky fans, Mike Miyamoto needs little introduction. The Suntory Whisky Global Ambassador last visited Sydney for the Great Whisk(e)y Rumble along with three other notable whisky figures. During his current visit, he presented a masterclass at Sydney’s Grain Bar.

Mike Miyamoto at Grain Bar
Mike Miyamoto

Grain Bar in the Four Seasons Hotel has been establishing itself as a go-to whisky bar. The venue has hosted four international master distillers in less than a year: Jimmy and Eddie Russell from Wild Turkey, John Campbell from Laphroaig, Chris Morris from Woodford Reserve and now Mike Miyamoto from Suntory Whisky.

Mike Miyamoto at Grain Bar
Suntory Whisky

The masterclass was introduced by Dan Woolley, Beam Suntory National Whisky Ambassador. Mike Miyamoto presented a consumer tasting taking guests on an educational journey of Japanese whiskies in the Suntory Whisky portfolio.

Staring with a brief history of the founding father of Japanese whisky, Shinjiro Torii, Miyamoto explained how the original whisky was too smoky and the Japanese people didn’t like it. Shinjiro Torii then set about creating a style of whisky that was delicate, well-balanced and in 1937, he created the Kakubin which went to become the longest selling whisky.

Suntory Whiskies are charaterised by being “subtle, refined yet complex”. On taste were five Japanese whiskies – single malts and blends – consisting of Yamazaki Distillers Reserve, Hakushu Distillers Reserve, Hakushu 12 yo, Hibiki Harmony and Hibiki 17 yo. Below are the tasting notes which he presented for each whisky.

Yamazaki Distillers Reserve

  • Colour: gold
  • Nose: strawberry, cherry, mizunara (Japanese oak)
  • Palate: raspberry, white peach, hint of coconut
  • Finish: sweet vanilla, clean finish with a hint of cinnamon

Hakushu Distillers Reserve

  • Colour: light gold
  • Nose: peppermint, melon, cucumber
  • Palate: yuzu, grapefruit, lemon thyme
  • Finish: refreshing with subtle smoke

Hakushu 12 yo

  • Colour: champagne gold
  • Nose: basil, pine needle, green apple
  • Palate: sweet pear, mint, kiwi
  • Finish: green tea, subtle smoke

Hibiki Harmony

  • Colour: amber
  • Nose: rose, lychee, hint of rosemary, mature woodiness, sandalwood
  • Palate: honey sweetness, candied orange peel, white chocolate
  • Finish: subtle and tender long finish, hint of Mizunara

Hibiki 17 yo

  • Colour: amber
  • Nose: peach, apricot, melon, rose, lily, lemon lead
  • Palate: toffee, black cherry, vanilla and Mizunara
  • Finish: sweet, fruity with lychee

Mike Miyamoto at Grain Bar

The lack of availability of some Japanese whiskies prompted a few questions but when it came to ages whiskies, Miyamoto was adamant in his response. “We wouldn’t stop making age statement whisky.”

The tasting was held at Grain Bar, Four Seasons Hotel on Wednesday 17 February 2016.

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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.