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Issue 108 - The Next Evolution

Whisky Magazine Issue 108
December 2012

 

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The Next Evolution

Dave Broomlooks at the new steps for Japanese whisky maker Suntory

Japan's HiBall Revolution has been well documented in these pages during the past five years, but there was always a question nagging away at the back of commentators' minds – what happens next?

This wasn't just driven by their insatiable lust for newness and inbuilt short attention span, but the feeling that getting new drinkers into whisky through HiBalls should just be the start. What was needed next was a bridge between this easy drinking entry point and the wider whisky world.

Not building the bridge would expose the HiBall firms to the vagaries of fashion and the possibility that other spirits or serves would come along, flutter their eyelashes at these new drinkers and lure them away.

“The HiBall boom has supported whisky sales and is now established as a starting point for whisky in Japan;” says Shinji Fukuyo, Suntory's chief blender. “But many of consumers don't understand what they are drinking is whisky, so our job now is to bring them into the authentic whisky world.” It would seem that even the advent of the HiBall Tower, effectively whisky soda on draught, offering Yamazaki and Hakushu 10 Years Old in HiBall form, isn't sufficient. “The cheapest Yamazaki is still a big jump in price from Kakubin,” Fukuyo explains. “We needed an easy drinking, authentic whisky at the right price.” The solution, now launched in Japan, are two No Age Statement [NAS] expressions of Yamazaki and Hakushu. Not having an age statement allows younger stock to be used...

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