Final night time, Japanese whisky powerhouse Suntory hosted a dinner for its Yamazaki model on the ultrachic Stephan Weiss Studio house, in New York Metropolis, at which model ambassador and emcee for the night’s festivities Gardner Dunn promised “a couple of surprises.” It was, because it seems, a little bit of an understatement. Not solely did acclaimed chef Nobu Matsuhisa make a shock look because the expertise behind the night’s unbelievable five-course dinner, however Suntory chief blender Shinji Fukuyo joined from Japan, by way of Zoom, to personally lead a tasting of the model’s 12-, 18- and 25-year-old single malt expressions. However the actual fireworks had been nonetheless to return.
They got here within the type of small, sealed vials, individually wrapped in black velvet baggage, which contained a dram of the oldest launch within the historical past of the Home of Suntory, the Yamazaki 55. Solely 100 bottles, priced at a urged retail of $60,000 every, might be launched. So far as “wow” issue goes, it was arduous to high.
The Yamazaki 55 contains three foremost elements which, taken collectively, span all three generations of Yamazaki grasp blenders, beginning with Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii, thought-about one of many founding fathers of Japanese whisky. The primary, distilled by Torii in 1960, was aged principally in mizunara oak casks; the second and third malts had been distilled in 1961 and 1964, respectively, by Suntory’s then-master blender Keizo Saji, and aged in American white oak. Tying the package deal collectively and bringing the mission full circle, the trio of malts had been chosen and blended in 2020 by Shingo Torii, grandson of Shinjiro and Suntory’s present grasp blender, in partnership with Fukuyo.
Tasting very outdated whisky is at all times a little bit of a visit by means of historical past. Since spirits don’t age within the bottle, you’re tasting an thought as a lot as a liquid—on this case, a look again in time to the whisky-making notions of Shinjiro Torii and Keizo Saji, however dropped at life by means of the trendy mixing artistry of Shingo Torii and Shinji Fukuyo. And the Yamazaki 55 may be very full of life certainly, vibrant each within the glass—it has a light-weight and beautiful rosy blush, because of the mizunara—and on the nostril, which bursts with aromas of gooey, ripe mango and cedar wooden (one other mizunara hallmark) earlier than giving approach to earthier notes of moist pine. Suntory served its 55 in a burgundy glass, and it’s clear why: You can spend as a lot time nosing this single malt as tasting many others.
The primary sip is a shock, gentle and wealthy, virtually rum-like in its sweetness, which transitions superbly into the Yamazaki’s attribute tropical fruit notes. Then, a powerful and mildly bitter nuttiness with hints of smoked wooden earlier than an extended, lingering end, candy and smoky. It’s an extremely complicated sip, with flavors dancing up and down the register like musical notes throughout a web page and a end to rival a standing ovation. It’s, in each sense, an announcement whisky.
The Yamazaki 55 might be offered in a crystal bottle with the Yamazaki named engraved in sand-blasted calligraphy that includes gold mud and lacquer, delivered in a field of Japanese mizunara wooden coated in Suruga lacquer. The bottle additionally options conventional Japanese crafts resembling washi paper, on its opening, and a Kyo-kumihimo plaited wire from Kyoto, the place Yamazaki’s relies.