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Hearing Master Blender Dr. Don Livermore speak about his latest creation, J.P. Wiser's Hopped Whisky, it's hard not to get swept up with his enthusiasm. A dedicated student of flavours, he's got advanced degrees in both brewing and distilling and his passion for whisky-making is palpable. At a media event at CC Lounge & Whisky Bar in Toronto, a few weeks back he explained that the idea for a hopped whisky was born from a conversation he had nearly ten years ago with a friend in the brewing sector that grows hops; "looking at how the hops were used, we realized there's an opportunity to use them in a different way, with whisky."
Earlier this week we were invited to attend the Canadian launch of Beam Suntory's latest premium blended whisky, Hibiki Japanese Harmony, at Kasa Moto restaurant here in Toronto. Assembled media guests were treated to a component tasting of 5 of the main whiskies from Suntory's Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita distilleries that were blended to make this expression of the Hibiki blend. Hands down, this was definitely one of the best component tastings and elemental deconstructions I've had the opportunity to enjoy.
- a sweet, almost Bourbon-like, 100% grain (corn) whisky aged in 1st fill ex-Bourbon barrels from the Chita distillery;
- a malt whisky aged in American white oak barrels made at the Suntory cooperage with a slightly oily body
- a rich single malt whisky aged in a cask that formerly held Oloroso sherry and was reminiscent of a classic Macallans
- a single malt whisky aged in a rare Mizunara oak cask that imbued complex flavours of sandalwood, estery fruit, with an interplay of new leather and smoke;
- and finally, a single malt velvet hammer of buttery vanilla and smokey peat from Hakushu distillery.
- Examine your intended recipient's existing collection as I will do my best to provide you with some benchmark bottles to provide a frame of reference in determining which palates a particular whisky will likely appeal to.
- For Ontario readers, make use of the embedded links to check stock before heading out to your local store. It is important to remember that as one of the last redeeming features of its existence, the LCBO does provide for free inter-store transfers of bottles, though delivery times will vary from 3 to 7 days depending on distance between your store and the store of origin. So you may not need to drive several hours to get a bottle. Lastly, for any locations showing one bottle of something, be sure to phone the store confirm availability.