Monday, May 30, 2011

Original Whisky - Two

The WHISKY SHOP W in Osaka, owned and run by Suntory has yet again bought out an exclusive store bottling. It appears the chief blender at Suntory has been playing around and once again come up with an original concoction for this coming season. It's said that single malt distilled at Hakushu has been carefully selected to create a dram appropriate for warm weather.  This particular 300ml bottling with an alcohol volume of 43 percent is claimed to have all the right aromas for summer. Accents of rich fruit are said to be present along with an attractive and comfortable smokiness. Currently only 466 bottles are left for purchase. This bottling, like their previous exclusive bottling, comes is a stylish gift box (cobalt blue) stamped with the stores insignia. The WHISKY SHOP W is located on the first floor of the Suntory Bldg in Dojima, Osaka.

Suntory Building 1F
2-1-40, Dojimahama, Kita-ku
Osaka city

06 – 6341 - 3123

The image of the bottle and packaging was obtained from Suntory's site. Thank you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Welcoming Retreat - Bar Augusta Tarlogie

Bar Augusta is quite a dimly lit establishment with two entrance doors. Basically one side of the establishment (right door) caters for groups, while the left entrance, for individuals, takes you into a narrower and smaller place with a long bar. Either way, both parts of Bar Augusta provide equally the same patronage and have the same atmosphere. Besides the reasonable malt selection, including some good domestic bottlings, Bar Augusta has an array of pleasing whisky ornaments and memorabilia. Occupy yourself while dramming and take in the collection of cased goods, signatures, pot stills and  photos while conversing. Readers who have had the pleasure to drink at Bar Augusta will certainly agree that the tenders of this establishment are very knowledgeable. A little history is heartily provided with each dram consumed, and if you are in one of those situations were making a selection is overwhelming the tenders will provide recommendations.

I was largely impressed not with the variety but with the limited edition and anniversary bottlings, mainly in domestic brands. I had the pleasure in spoiling my palate with a few drams but most remarkable would have been the cask strength peated version of Yamazaki. Bottled in 1993 with an alcohol volume of 62 percent, this bourbon cask bottling labeled “NBA Osaka Kita-Private Choice” is only available to members of the Nippon Bartenders Association. If you want something a bit special than usual, ask for it, but be prepared to pay special prices. Otherwise just opt for a dram of your favourite and pay accordingly. Anti-smokers should also take note that this bar, compliant with its formality, is a smoke free zone. If you’re ever in Umeda and want an experience, and certainly an education, do pop into this place for a dram. I know I certainly will be back. The location of Bar Augusta couldn’t be any better, especially for residents in Osaka. Certainly not hard to find and only a short walk from Umeda’s Chayamachi district, basically behind the Umeda Loft store towards the main road (which you need to cross).

Arakawa Building 1F
2-3, Tsurunocho, Kita-Ku, Osaka-shi

7-minute walk from Hankyu Umeda station (308 meters)
8-minutes from the Midosuji Subway line Umeda station
15-minutes from the JR Osaka station


Opening hours:

Regular holiday:

Introduction by Clint A

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Suntory's Peel and Win

Lucky for those currently residing in Japan and don’t mind canned drams. Suntory is currently running a campaign for the chance to receive a Kakubin highball freebie. Until May 31, simply make a purchase of Suntory’s canned Kakubin highball at any Kiosk, Heart-in, or Daily-in to be in the chance to instantly win. The “present” campaign named “one more can” is as simple as peeling of the red sticker (above) to reveal if you are lucky or unlucky. Winners can then take it to any of the participating stores mentioned to collect and quench their thirst on the spot. Not bad really, two for the price of one. On the reverse side it will either say 当たり (bingo) or 残念 (too bad). If you are not sure on the kanji, take it in anyway for confirmation. The good thing about this particular campaign is there are no hidden catches and you don’t have to register by accessing barcodes to be in it to win it. Good luck.

Uncle Torys' Moonwalk

Regardless of whether we are purists or not, we all tend to share a likening in Suntory’s big, bold, and colourful advertising that tends to be incorporated into their ads for signature blend concoctions. Since the welcoming return of the highball, Japan has been saturated with paraphernalia and campaigns, in particular from Suntory. On any given day, on any given train ride, the images, and colours of KAKUBIN and TORYS are seen from afar. The characters of “Uncle Tory” and “Koyuki” share icon status here in Japan and have in many respects turned bland blends into one of Japan's most consumed alcoholic beverages. On May 11, Suntory announced the return of Uncle Tory in yet again another likable and new 15 second commercial that began to air on Japanese TV. 

Image kindly borrowed from Suntory's "Torys website"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Suntory Hibiki 17yo 43% abv

I believe no introduction is needed into this particular blend, that on occasion, can out price a good Japanese single malt or even a Scottish malt for that matter. Famed both domestically and abroad, this fine blend can certainly justify itself when it comes to pricing. It appears though that in the last few years Hibiki's 17 year-old has slightly climbed in price. However, you can still obtain this elegant bottled goodness cheaply in Japan if you are prepared to look around

Nose: Musk life savers, caramel fudge, faint orange zest, florally, hints of lavender, dried figs, sultanas, a dash of aniseed, oak, definitely many notes of sweetness.

Taste: Ground pepper, spice, slightly sulphuric, lavender cookies, toffee, licorice.

Finish: Once you get passed the toffee the finish can be semi-prolonged. The initial peppery kick comes and goes with waves of spice in the middle, finishing with yet again a musky life saver mouthfeel.

Balance: Certainly nothing negative about this, good mouthfeel, however, I personally enjoyed the nose on this opposed to the taste. The nose shows so much potential initially only to possibly have a shortage in taste.

Comment: Let this sit in the glass for a good while and let it open up, the aromas that seep out when doing this are rewarding. Nose around the glass and hover over it a while before diving in. No water added, however the majority of Hibiki drank in Japan is on ice, so possibly experiment.

Reviewed by Clint A