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Archive for March, 2010

The Hibiki 12 was one of the REAL reasons I found myself at Park Ave Liquors on that wonderful trip in December. The evening of its purchase I opened up the bottle with my father and he and I sat alone at the dining room table for well over an hour, our hands covering our glasses to keep the aromas in, sipping in near silence -breaking it only occasionally to offer a tasting note or pontificate poetically. It was a moment I want never to forget.

The reason I sought out this bottling so hard is that it’s only the third japanese whiskey available in the US, alongside the Yamazaki 12 and 18 year old expressions. All these come from the same japanese company, Suntory, made famous over here by Bill Murray’s character in the movie Lost in Translation. This is the first japanese blended whiskey we’ve received and this, along with their 17, 21 and 30 year old expressions consistently win gold medals in international competitions in the blended categories. It’s not currently available in Massachusetts but it is expected to make it over here before the end of the year.

My notes were compiled over several days, but unfortunately I didn’t bother writing down which notes were merely tasted but didn’t necessarily come through on the nose. I also didn’t pick up on all flavors on different days, but I remain confident that they… er… were definitely there at the time.

Consumed: Neat

Nose: demerera sugar, plum, mint, sherry, lemon, apple, cream, almond, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, honeysuckle, clove, kiwi, tobacco, leather, oak

Everything was very well balanced and nuanced with a strong demerera backbone and a solid plum presence, with the other flavors coming and going throughout the experience in roughly that order.

Hibiki 12 Year

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St. George is a small distillery in Alameda, California which you may not recognize though have experienced if you’ve ever consumed Hangar One Vodka, which they produce in conjunction with the Germain-Robin distillery. I would very much like to get out to the west coast sometime to try the eau-de-vie produced by the distillery, as well as the brandy made at Germain-Robin; hell, while I’m at it, may as well head up to Portland and sample the line of spirits coming out of McCarthy’s orchard at Clear Creek Distillery… Some day.

On my holiday trip to NYC with my family I stopped into Park Ave Liquors, which to my (very limited) knowledge, seems to be the stop for single-malt shopping in Manhattan. I had my own shopping list (and that of a dear friend of mine) to take care of, and while I was talking with a wonderfully knowledgeable sales clerk, my father, after unsuccessfully trying to find a brittish columbian ice-wine, found this particular bottle and purchased it. He and I recently broke it out while watching the Winter Olympics and I jotted down a few tasting notes.

Consumed: Neat

Nose: ruby grapefruit, blueberries, vanilla’d sugar, cream, chocolate malt, nutmeg, almonds, hazelnuts, coffee, licorice
Palate: Very heavy on the cocolate and hazelnuts with a blueberry top note, finish is short and immediately nutty, then fading to the blueberry again.
Overall: a little too simple and sweet, which is often my problem with domestic single-malts. It just hasn’t spent enough time in wood for the sugars to transform into a honey or caramel etc. flavor, they remain plain and saccharine, boring. Don’t get me wrong, not unpleasant at all, just not quite there, and probably not worth whatever it was he ended up paying for it.

St. George Single-Malt Whiskey

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