You can’t tell a story about Japanese Whisky without first talking about Shinjiro Torii. Torii is the undisputed father of Japanese whisky. He opened the very first distillery in Japan, The Yamazaki distillery. The first Whisky created in Japan, Suntory Shirofuda (white label), would ultimately fail as Torii would learn satisfying the delicate palate of the Japaneses people is crucial to a successful whisky. Years later the original Yamazaki distillery has gone on to win International Spirits Challenge “Distiller of the Year” 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Together the Suntory Whisky House comprised of Yamazaki, Hibiki and Hakushu has dominated the Japanese whisky market and recently even given the Scottish a run for their money. Their subtle, well rounded flavours and meticulous attention to detail have been the backbone of Suntory whisky.
The legacy of Shinjiro Troii lives on in the third-generation Master Blender Shingo Torii. It’s Shingo Troii who created the Hibiki line of blended whiskies to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Suntory Corporation. Hibiki Harmony will be released in Canada and will be available through the British Columbia LDB beginning November 7th which is great news for Canadian Whisky drinkers. Japanese Whisky is incredibly good, hard to find, and very drinkable due to the attention put on having more subtle tastes. Harmony is created using at least 10 malt and grain whiskies, aged in five different types of casks including the rare Mizunara (Japanese oak). The malt whiskies are from the famed Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries, as well as grain whisky from the Chita distillery. Look for the distinctive bottle cut in 24 facets to represent the 24 season of the Japanese lunar calendar.
During a tasting event held by Miku Restaurant I was able to taste samples of the individual components used to blend this whisky. Most of these components will never see a bottle as they are used solely to make the distinct Habiki blend and due to demand can not be sold as single expressions. American White Oak malt whiskies create a solid base. The rare Mizunara (Japanese oak) and sherry cask malt whiskies are the dressing. The smoky malt whiskies enact as subtle accents to create depth and further complexity. Grain whiskies from Suntory’s Chita distillery act as the “dashi,” or broth, to complete the personality of the malt whiskies and enhance their overall harmony.