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Issue 130 - Japanese Harmony

Whisky Magazine Issue 130
September 2015


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Japanese Harmony

America tunes into Hibiki whisky

The room on the top floor of the sleek New Museum in Manhattan's Chinatown is bright and stark, a study in crisp lines and architectural purity. Vast windows offer astonishing city views. There is a very Japanese tone to the design, making it a perfect setting for the New York debut of Hibiki Japanese Harmony, the latest no age statement whisky from Suntory.

It's composed of at least ten malt and grain whiskies, aged in five different types of casks, from Suntory's Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita distilleries. (They're the same malt and grain whiskies used in the original Hibiki blend as well as Hibiki 17 and 21.) And on a gorgeous night in June, Suntory's celebrated chief blender Shinji Fukuyo took the spotlight to lead a tasting of five of Harmony's components whiskies.

It was an exercise that would make anyone realise that the spirit isn't called ‘Harmony' for nothing. Sampling the constituents could be equated to listening to the various orchestra sections play their respective parts of, say, a Mozart symphony in isolation.

Then, when the conductor starts directing, it's easy to understand how the sounds intertwine in, well, harmony.

Most of the evening was as cerebral as it was sensorial. Fukuyo, great-grandson of Suntory's founder, Shingo Torii, provided a capsule history of the Japanese whisky industry, explaining how the Japanese largely took their distilling cues from the Scotch. But according to the longtime master blender, there was a natural factor in the easter...

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