World of Whisky: Let the Journey Begin

Monday, June 11, was SWAM’s first World of Whisky event beginning the journey in Japan.  Although we were not in the country of Japan, we had their finest whiskies.  This tasting was very special to me because over the years we began collecting Japanese whiskies.  Friends would travel to Japan and asked if there was anything we wanted.  Of course we seized the opportunity to have them bring back Hibikis and Nikkas.   The collection grew enough that it was about time to share.  Perhaps the journey should have began where ‘whisky’ was invented, nevertheless, we have been doing Scotch tastings for awhile and taking this detour would be a nice beginning from the obvious.  Here’s the line-up.

Nikka Gold and Gold:  We prepared it Manhattan style.  It was a lot more  smokier and very savory.  I’m beginning to prefer this style of flavor over the traditional Manhattan.   Paired with a Banya Cauda Mousse or anchovy mousse with tempura and fresh vegetables.  The smokey, sweet manhattan matched well with the saltiness of the Banya Cauda.

2-  1 1/4oz.  Nikka Gold and Gold
1- 1 oz. Noilly Prat Sweet Vermouth
dash of Fees Bros. Aromatic Bitters
Stir in ice, strain into a martini glass garnished with a maraschino cherry

Chichibu ‘Ichiro’s First’ 3 year Single Malt:  At 61% ABV, taking it neat was too ‘hot’ to appreciate.  After a couple drops of water, the whisky opened up and shined..brillantly.  Whisky Advocate named this whisky Japanese Whisky of the Year in 2012.  The uniqueness about the Chichibu was the aroma of sandlewood.  The sandlewood profile came from fermenting the malt in mizunara, Japanese oak, vats.   For a young whisky it had viscosity and richness.  We paired this with the Bain and Kumamoto oysters.  After gobbling up the delicious and sweet oysters, a nice treat was adding a little Chichibu into the oyster shell and tossing it back to help cleanse the palate.

Suntory Hakushu 12 year Single Malt: Making it’s debut in the Hawaii market, we were very excited to try the Hakushu.  Slightly smokey aroma but not as earthy as the Nikka.  There was lightness about the 1 2 year old.  It was subtle in flavor.  Paired with a Smoked Chicken Hash and Hamakua Caprese Salad with a cherry balsamic vinaigrette, the salad kicked up the Hakushu’s flavor with more acidity.

Suntory Yamazaki 18 year Single Malt:  The dark caramel color, sweet butterscotch on the nose, and the Yamazaki 18  just glided on the palate.  Silky, Silky, Silky.   Paired with the Pan Seared Scallop with a Hibiki 21 glaze and a Braised Pork Belly with Watercress Waldorf  Salad.  This pairing done me in! The Yamazaki 18 with the Braised Pork Belly was absolutely sinful!  It felt sooo wrong eating all that sticky sweet gelatinous fat and washing it down with the 18 year.   The Yamazaki cut the pork fat in to butter.  OH…it was incredible.

Suntory Hibiki 30 year Blended:  Not available in the United States.  Four years ago, we bought this Hibiki 30 for around $500/600 US dollars.  Currently 2012, the bottle is now priced at $1000 US Dollars.  Smooth and rich with figs and cocoa.  This whisky was paired with Hacho Misa Glazed Lamb with Daikon and Wild Mushroom Gratin.  Frankly, I couldn’t help but take two bites out of the perfectly cooked dish and called it quits.  I was full to the gills!  The lamb was tender and the 30 year added a more smokier finish to the lamb.  I didn’t know which one to continue on further.  I chose the whisky and took home the lamb.

Nikka Taketsuru 17 year Pure Malt:  A generous gesture from one of our guests, Mika Hill.  She offered her bottle for the dessert course.  The Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme with Fig Jam was a home run with the Nikka 17 year.  The 17 year has a faint nutty and  chocolate flavor but paired with the pot de creme enhanced the velvetly chocolate notes.  It was a pleasant surprise to have a whisky unexpectedly paired with the dessert finale.

Kyle Matsumoto and his team at Off the Wall Restaurant did a magnificent job pairing Japanese whisky with their style of food.   What an incredible evening to start our journey.  It will be challenge to find another great food pairing for our next destination….. Scotland!

Off the Wall Restaurant

Chichibu Distillery

List of  Suntory’s Award Winning Whiskies 

List of Nikka’s Award Winning Whiskies

Category : Blog &Reviews &Spirits Posted on June 13, 2012

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