Tag Archives: Hibiki Suntory Japanese Harmony Whisky

Memorial Day – 5 wines, 2 vodka cocktails, and 2 whiskies

Memorial Day is one of our country’s biggest weekends. The first official party to celebrate warm weather each year is always a fine time to enjoy some of life’s lighter wines and spirits.

Sparkling wines to love:

  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut – the Spanish cava in the sexy black bottle that’s been one of the most popular sparkling wines in the U.S. for forty years. Crisp, clean, and well-balanced, medium-bodied with a palate of apple, pear and bright citrus flavors, it has a moderately long finish and a crisp touch of ginger. Pairs well with most any food.
  • Freixenet Carta Nevada Brut – This refreshingly light, slightly sweet cava has fresh, fruity flavor while still pleasantly dry. Full, ripe peach, apricot fruit and vanilla nose, with big, round, soft flavors in the mouth and an appealing finish. Perfect for brunch or for mixing champagne cocktails. Great for those new to sparkling wines.

Three rosé wines perfect for indulging yourself:

  • Alta Vista: Rosé 2015—100% Malbec. Reddish hue, fruity aromas of ripe and sour cherries and floral notes of red roses, with a persistent flavor of recently picked grapes. Great with pasta dishes such as pesto and bright salads. ~$13 
  • Masi Agricola: Rosa dei Masi 2015—Using the Appassimento drying technique to concentrate flavors, this rosé is fresh and fruity, yet complex and elegant. 100% Refosco grapes yield a soft pink wine brushed with cherry tones and intense aromas of berries, especially raspberries and wild cherries. Soft and well-balanced with lively and refreshing acidity. Excellent as an aperitif, with antipasti or seafood dishes. ~SRP $15
  • The Seeker Rosé 2015A classic dry Provence rosé blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Cinsault from vineyards influenced by the sea, sunshine and granite-schist soils. Elegant, fresh and delicately fruity, refreshing on its own or pairs well with a wide variety of shellfish, salads, and berry-based dishes. ~$14

Two vodka cocktails to enjoy for Memorial Day, Father’s Day and/or National Martini Day (both on June 19, 2016):

And how about these 2 whiskies to stir your senses:

  • Speyburn 10-year-old Scotch whisky – Smooth and mellow, pale amber colored, non-peaty, this is a Scotch to warm the heart without stressing the nose or the palate. Mild and easy going, this gold-medal single malt at 2014 International Wine & Spirit competition, is a great one for warm weather. A bargain at ~$23
  • Hibiki Suntory Japanese Harmony Whisky – A deliciously complex, smooth and gentle whisky made to be sipped over a giant ice ball or drunk neat. It’s a lovely blend of at least 10 different whiskies, aged in 5 different types of casks. The whole effect of flavors and aromas is like music from a fine orchestra. Beautiful for warm weather. ~$75

Japan’s new Scotch-type whisky surprises and delights

Japan is known, among many other things, for its delicate paintings and its impressively ritualistic tea ceremony. But seldom in the U.S. for its whiskies.

Recently a long-time Japanese whisky maker merged with a famous U.S. group called Beam to form a new entity called Beam Suntory. The original Japanese company had been studying and implementing Scottish distilling techniques since 1923. But now they have a strong “in” to American tastes. After extensive experimenting, Beam Suntary has brought to market a whisky totally in tune with the Japanese style but informed with the experience of the Beam family (makers of Jim Beam, etc.) and the know-how of Scottish experts. It’s known as Hibiki Suntory Japanese Harmony Whisky, and it’s all about beautiful blending.
Beautiful cut-glass decanter shows off the amber liquid
Beautiful cut-glass decanter shows off the amber liquid

Recently at a lovely modern venue in West Loop known as Morgan’s on Fulton, the Beam Suntory company showcased this latest innovative liquor. Packaged in a beautiful cut-glass decanter with 24 cuts to match what the Japanese know as 24 seasons, this light, delicate, oaky (it’s aged in 5 different types of casks) but harmoniously blended whisky is likely to bring a smile to the face of Scotch lovers and bourbon lovers as well as whiskey lovers. It’s delicate without being the least bit fragile (aromas of rose, lychee, rosemary and sandalwood, and notes of sweet candied orange peel and white chocolate on the palate). And it worked beautifully in several mixed cocktails served at the event. And then, Japanese attention to detail was apparent in the way the whisky was presented unmixedwith a hand-carved ball of pristinely clear ice in each glass. This method preserves the flavor and aroma by preventing too much melting to dilute the liquor–and it looks really cool. They make the ice in large square cubes, and the bartender hand-chips it into a ball.

Artist's depiction of Hibiki Japanese Harmony Bar
Artist’s depiction of Hibiki Japanese Harmony Bar

It’s a beautiful sight, the glistening super-clear ice in the pale honey-amber-colored whisky. But they set it off even more by presenting a multimedia, interactive visual display known as the Hibiki® Japanese Harmony™ Bar. This fully immersive, interactive experience  is the first of its kind in the world. It takes guests on a journey through the richness of the Japanese seasons, the moving pictures of paintings (all by famous Japanese artist Shinsuke Kawahara) activated by each of eight participants picking up his or her glass and swirling it. Fluttering butterflies in spring and leaves in fall, snowflakes in winter and flowers and sunshine in summer. Each season was accompanied by appropriate Japanese-tinged musical interludes. The lights in the room were turned down so the visual presentation took center stage.

Leave it to the Japanese to create this exquisite way to enjoy a drink. Get some of this beautiful whisky for yourself (retail ~$65) or as a gift for a really good friend.