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Issue 64 - Full House (Hanyu)

Whisky Magazine Issue 64
June 2007

 

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Full House (Hanyu)

Dave Broom looks at the story behind this new Japanese whisky company which is upping the anté

There was a gasp around the room. It didn't dawn on me immediately why the announcement of the World Whiskies Awards Best Japanese whisky under 12 years was so shocking. Memo to self: when in Japan stop coming at things from a Scottish perspective. In Scotch, and bourbon for that matter, awards are generally shared among distillers quite happily. “Well done old chap.” “Many thanks old boy. I'm sure you'll get it next year.” That sort of thing.

In Japan, I had momentarily forgotten, there is a duopoly in place. When it comes to awards it is a fight between Nikka and Suntory. No longer. The gasp-inducing winner was Ichiro's Malt, Two of Clubs, a frisky little six-year-old from the Hanyu distillery which had been finished in Japanese oak. It was the whisky equivalent of the Arctic Monkeys beating U2 at the Grammys.

In retrospect it wasn't such a surprise, just a continuation of a year in which the world had woken up to the whiskies emerging from this previously obscure Japanese distiller. It started when some were entered (blind) to the Japanese tasting (issue 56), which saw King of Diamonds walk off with the Editor's Choice.

Hanyu followed this up by winning the Japanese Icon for Innovator of the Year. Now this. All from a distillery which doesn't quite exist.

Maybe a wordof explanation is needed. The whiskies are real enough, as was the distillery in which they were made. The old Hanyu plant closed in 2000 and was dismantled four years later. There's a new Hanyu un...

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