SUNTORY RELEASED SPECIAL LIMITED EDITIONS OF YAMAZAKI & HAKUSHU 18YO TO MARK 100th ANNIVERSARY
By Tony Zhu
Japan’s century-old drinks giant Suntory has released limited editions of Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara and Hakushu 18YO Peated Malt to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year.
Released last Saturday, the Yamazaki 18YO Mizunara has a suggested retail price of USD1,500.
Though the brand already has an 18YO expression in its core portfolio, the Yamazaki 18YO Mizunara deviates in that it is aged exclusively in Japanese Mizunara oak casks and with an ABV of 46% instead of 43%.
Mizunara oak is significantly rarer than its European and American counterparts, a Mizunara tree needs to be around for 200 years before it can be cut and used in casks.
“The ultimate goal was to create a complex and sophisticated whisky by adding woody and spicy characteristics derived from Mizunara oak barrels to the rich and robust Yamazaki malt,” said Shinji Fukuyo, 5th generation chief blender for Suntory.
The Hakushu 18YO Peated Malt, also released last Saturday, is a bit smokier in profile than the Yamazaki, with more orchard fruit and wild flower honey on the palate.
Suntory described the Hakushu 18YO Peated Malt as peaty, smoky and fruity. The dram has an ABV of 43% and is set to retail at USD1,200 per bottle.
Japanese whisky drinkers did not like peaty style when Yamazaki was first launched 100 years ago.
It wasn’t until 1973 when Master Blender Keizo Saji opened Hakushu Distillery that consumers began to warm to the style.
“Miazunara oak barrels have always played an important role for Yamazaki, and smokiness has always been a hallmark for Hakushu,” Fukyuko added, “So I believe the flavours I blended for the 100th Anniversary are appropriate in terms of staying true to these brands’ characters and their historical significance.”
The company is also set to release limited versions of its Yamazaki 12YO and Hakushu 12YO expressions later to mark the special occasion.
In addition to launching the limited editions its iconic Japanese whiskies, Suntory has partnered with Hollywood star Keanu Reeves and director Sofia Coppola to create a series of anniversary tributes that featured the craftsmanship and inspiration of the art of whisky making in the House of Suntory.
Reeves is a lover of Japanese whiskies and Coppola filmed the movie “Lost in Translation” 20 years ago which saw the main character, played by Bill Murray, travelling to Tokyo to promote Suntory whiskies.
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