World’s 1st ‘World Blended’ Whisky From Suntory Is Coming to the US; Here’s What That Means and Why it’s Important
Japanese whisky producer, The House of Suntory, is bringing Ao, the world’s first “world blended” whisky, to the rest of the world. Previously exclusive to Japan and global travel retail locations only, Suntory arrived in December to Canada, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea — and will be available in the U.S. in “early 2023,” according to Breaking Bourbon.
“Ao is an exceptional whisky which, through the art of Suntory blending, allows you to enjoy the unique characteristics of each of the five major whisky-making regions,” fifth-generation Suntory Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo said, per Breaking Bourbon.
Bottled at 86 proof, Suntory World Whisky Ao is available for a suggested retail price of $55 per 700-milliliter bottle.
What is a World Blended Whiskey?
Suntory calls Ao “world blended” for good reason. There are five regions that produce what are considered to be the five major types of whiskey: scotch (Scotland), bourbon (the U.S.), Irish (Ireland), Canadian (Canada) and Japanese (Japan). To bottle Ao, Suntory blends whiskies from distilleries it owns in each of those five regions, creating a hybrid Scottish-American-Irish-Canadian-Japanese whisky.
The Whiskies in the Ao Blend
- Scotland: Ardmore and Glen Garioch
- Ireland: Cooley
- Canada: Alberta
- U.S.: Jim Beam
- Japan: Yamazaki and Hakushu
Why Suntory Ao World Whisky is Significant
Never before has a whisky this global existed. We’ve seen cross-region blends before, such as High West’s blend of American and Scottish whiskeys, but blending whiskies from each of the five major categories is a really interesting experiment — and a huge flex, considering Suntory is using only its own whiskies for the blend. For this expression to be available across the world and be relatively affordable is great for whisky fans.
This will be a must-buy for any whisky enthusiast based on curiosity alone. Plus, it could serve as something of a gateway spirit for American drinkers to sample more Japanese whisky, which is a category that has grown in popularity in the U.S. but is still fairly untapped.
Suntory World Whisky Ao Tasting Notes, Via the Brand
- Color: Amber
- Nose: Profound vanilla, pineapple-like fruitiness on top, a creamy sweetness and depth with a lingering woody aroma
- Palate: Smooth and sweet mouthfeel, gradually followed with smokiness and cinnamon-like spiciness
- Finish: Sweet and smoky, spicy and woody, a many-layered complexity
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