Suntory Toasts to 100 Years of History With Limited-Edition Hakushu and Yamazaki Whiskies
House of Suntory celebrated its 100th anniversary, which prompted the Japanese distillery to pay homage to the past with two limited-edition releases that launched on Saturday: Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara and Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt. House of Suntory is also set to release limited-edition versions of its Yamazaki 12 Year and Hakushu 12 Year expressions.
Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara Anniversary Edition
Yamazaki is no stranger to releasing specialty expressions that have often fetched exorbitant prices. Though the brand already has an 18-year expression within its core portfolio, the Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara deviates in that it is aged exclusively in Japanese Mizunara oak 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 during an interview with Food and Wine.
Mizunara oak is significantly scarcer than its European and American counterparts. Not only that, but a Mizunara tree needs to be around for 200 years before it can be cut and used in casks, according to Wine Enthusiast.
The Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara also hosts a 48% ABV strength, which deviates from the 43% in the original Yamazaki 18 Year. Food and Wine describes the dram as possessing aromas of clove and nutmeg with tropical fruit on the palate and a creamy toasted coconut-inspired finish. The expression has a suggested retail price of $1,500.
Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt Anniversary Edition
According to Food and Wine, the Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt is a bit smokier in profile than the Yamazaki, with more orchard fruit and wildflower honey on the palate. House of Suntory described the Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt as peaty, smoky and fruity. The dram clocks in at 86 proof and is set to retail at $1,200 per bottle.
Japanese drinkers had a contentious relationship with peat when Yamazaki began first experimenting with it nearly 100 years ago. It wasn’t until 1973 when Master Blender Keizo Saji opened Hakushu Distillery that consumers began to warm to the style. The alpine distillery’s high elevation combined with access to fresh mountain water softened the harsher components of peat-smoked malts.
“Miazunara oak barrels have always played an important role for Yamazaki, and smokiness has always been a hallmark for Hakushu,” Fukyuko concluded, “So I believe the flavors I blended for the 100th Anniversary are appropriate in terms of staying true to these brands’ characters and their historical significance.”
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