Beer Review – Brauerei Heller-Trum Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen

Aecht Schlenferla Rauchbier - Weizen

Recently, in an effort to expand my beer horizons, I had G-LO over to debate the merits of smoked beers. I had picked up two beautiful bottles from Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla. The first was the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock which I found to be fantastic. The second is the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen. At the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards, this beer won the Gold medal in the smoked beer category and the brewer won the Cryermalt Trophy for Champion – Medium-sized  International Brewery.

Before we get to my review, here is what Schlenkerla has to say about the Weizen:

Schlenkerla Smokebeer Wheat is an ale with light smoky aroma. As Bavarian wheat beers, it is being brewed with a mixture of both barley malt and wheat malt. The portion of barley malt is hereby a classic Schlenkerla smokemalt, while the wheat malt remains unsmoked. Served unfiltered with its natural haziness, Schlenkerla Wheat reaches its full aroma through bottle fermentation with fine top fermenting yeast.

And here’s my take…

  • Appearance: A little layered with a light brown top, and orange-ish middle and a lemony bottom.
  • Aroma: Light smoke, citrus (lemon) with a good bit of sweetness and a little bit of dough.
  • Taste: A well-balanced, wheat beer that hits all of the notes of a really, good wheat beer with the added hint of smoke.
  • ABV: 5.2%

I didn’t like this one as much as I liked the Urbock. Not that there is anything wrong with this beer; it is still a really, really good beer. For me, I think it is more a question of the style; I am just not as big a fan of the wheat beers as I am of a heavier beer like the Urbock. One work of caution; this beer is bottle conditioned so as you pour it out you need to beware the residual schmutz in the bottom of the bottle/glass.

Beer Review – Fegley’s Brew Works Blueberry Belch

Fegley's Blueberry Belch

After my recent foray into a blueberry beer with the Wachusett Blueberry Ale, I picked up another one to see if my impressions were the same. I selected a bottle from Fegley’s Brew Works; partly for the name, the Blueberry Belch and partly for the pretty graphics on the bottle. I have had some experience with Fegley’s in that I had sampled the Space Monkey (a Saison with real raspberries) and the Bourbon Barrel Insidious Imperial Stout at the Opening Tap at the 2013 Philly Beer Week. Having enjoyed one of their fruit beers and a great imperial stout, I thought I’d be pleased with this one. Fegley’s Brew Works (est. 1998) are restaurants/breweries in the Lehigh Valley (one in Allentown and one in Bethlehem). Now, they are operated using 100% renewable energies. I guess drinking their products would reduce my carbon footprint; thus, making my drinking good for the environment. And, creating another win/win situation.

Before we get to my review, here is what Fegley’s has to say about the Blueberry Belch:

Made With Real Blueberry Fruit

Each 15bbl batch is made using 150 pounds of 100% real fruit.

No added sweeteners or flavors.

Blueberry Belch is a fantastic summer session beer that pairs well with poultry and salads, as well as earthy cheeses like camembert and fontina. It goes great with our PA Dutch and German dishes here at Fegley’s Brew Works, and we admit with a smile that we find it to be a hit at brunch with egg dishes, pancakes, waffles and bacon.

With a definite aroma of blueberries, this slightly cloudy (unfiltered real fruit) ale has notes of blueberries that stand out on the initial taste with a pleasing acidity. The fruit flavor follows throughout combined with a satisfying breadiness, and its moderate carbonation brings back the great flavor again…and again...

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Cloudy amber with ruby tinges and a lot of beige/pink foam.
  • Aroma: Sweet malt, dried fruit and blueberries.
  • Taste: Crisp, fizzy with a nice blend of not overly sweet blueberries. There is a nice balance between the sweetness and the tartness of the berry.
  • ABV: 4.2%

This was more of a beer with fruit than a fruit beer. It was not quite as refreshing as I had expected and also not as sweet (that is a good thing). As with the Wachusett, I’m not loving this style of beer but Fegley’s has made a better one. I liked the Space Monkey more but that might be a preference of raspberries to blueberries. In any event, this was a well-crafted attempt. If you are looking for something different and a way to reduce your carbon footprint, you might want to give the Blueberry Belch a try.

Beer Review – Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout

Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout

The other night, I was feeling a little peckish. Rather than grab a box of Oreos, I pulled out a bottle of Chocolate Stout. I am a big fan of Samuel Smith’s (love the Oatmeal Stout and the Winter Welcome; and the Benevolents enjoy the Organic Apricot Ale) and have tried most of their lineup (at least what I can get my hands on at Kress Liquors or Roger Wilco at Eagle Plaza). So, it should come as no surprise that I picked up the Chocolate Stout partly because I like the style but mostly because it was from Samuel Smith. An added plus, the beer is certified organic by the USDA and is registered with the Vegan Society as suitable for vegans and vegetarians. After reading that, I am fairly certain that this means that the Chocolate Stout is good for me and I should drink this more often.

Before we get to my review, here is what Samuel Smith has to say about the Organic Chocolate Stout:

Brewed with well water (the original well, sunk in 1758, is still in use with the hard water is drawn from 85 feet underground), the gently roasted organic chocolate malt and organic cocoa impart a delicious, smooth and creamy character, with inviting deep flavours and a delightful finish – this is the perfect marriage of satisfying stout and luxurious chocolate.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: About a dark a beer as I have ever had with lots of tan foam.
  • Aroma: Sweet malt with a little bit of dough and then a big blast of dark chocolate.
  • Taste: Full-bodied and creamy like a hopped chocolate shake. This is sweet but not overpowering with a full flavor of chocolate that has only a slight hint of bitterness in the finish.
  • ABV: 5%

This might be my new favorite dessert beer. And, I would offer this up in any discussion about dessert beers and food pairings. This would be fantastic with cheesecake or vanilla ice cream. The only drawback; like most dessert beers, it is probably a little too sweet to have more than one. Once again, I say to Samuel Smith – well done!

Beer Review – Shipyard Brewing Double Old Thumper Ale

Shipyard Old Thumper

While in Cape Canaveral, Florida. I found a need for liquid refreshment and turned to the Liquor store next to the local Publix. As I have noted a number of times, I don’t really do any research and usually select a bottle based on its label art and name; the prettier the bottle or more dramatic the name, the better. Of course, along the way I have picked up a couple of truly dreadful beers that apparently invested all of the funding in the bottle design and didn’t save much for the actual product. In other instances, I have purchased a beer where the label really didn’t match the content and the beer didn’t have the enormous hop character that the name might have suggested or despite the pretty bottle art, jasmine shouldn’t ever be added to a beer. Anyway, I saw this bottle of Double Old Thumper Ale from Shipyard Brewing Company and it fit my requirements: shiny bottle with fancy art and a cool name.

Before we get to my review, here is what Shipyard has to say about the Old Double Thumper:

The big brother of the British Grand Champion beer Old Thumper. Double Old Thumper delivers a spicy hop aroma and brilliant deep copper hue. This beer has a complex malty finish with a dry Simcoe Hop bite.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Cloudy amber with lots of lacing.
  • Aroma: Hops, citrus (grapefruit) with blasts of caramel and syrup; almost a sweet sauce that you could put on ribs.
  • Taste: Mild carbonation with too much sweetness on the front end and just too sour in the finish.
  • ABV: 11.2%

This is a perfect example of where my lack of research comes back to bite me. A quick check at Beer Advocate or Rate Beer would have indicated that the Double Old Thumper is an English barleywine. While this might be a good representation of that style (it was really too out of balance to be anything better than good), I am not a fan of the style. I would like to say lesson learned, but I’m sure I’ll be back to buying the shiny bottles without due research again.

Beer Review – Brauerei Heller-Trum Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock

Aecht Schlenferla Rauchbier - Urbock

A while ago, G-LO came over with his boys. While they scampered around the yard, G-LO and I took up our post on The Barthenon (I mean as good parents keeping a watchful eye over our children, where else would we go?). Anyway, we sat around the table and mused about how to pass the time. I suggested we discuss a means to end world hunger; G-LO suggested a beer. Clearly, his was a better suggestion. I reached deep into the beer fridge and pulled out a bottle of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock. I picked this beer as G-LO has a fondness for smoked beers and I am trying to expand my palate (at least, beyond fruit shandies). The Urbock is produced by Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla in Bamberg, Germany. A quick trip to their website reveals that the Urbock is one of the 50 best beers in the world and the only rauchbier on the list. At long last, my penchant for fancy bottles has paid off and I picked up a more than middling beer.

Before we get to my review, here is what Schlenkerla has to say about the Urbock:

A full bodied smoked bock beer for Bamberg’s strong beer season (October through December) in fall. Brewed already in the summer time, it is matured for months in the ancient Schlenkerla rock-cellars underneath Bamberg. Tapped freshly from the oakwood cask and the Schlenkerla brewery pub. Similar to, but much bigger than the classic Maerzen style.

And now for my thoughts…

  • Appearance: Chocolate brown with red highlights and lots of tan foam.
  • Aroma: Smoked meat; bacon, beef jerky, dog treats.
  • Taste: Full-bodied, meaty stout with great flavor and balance.
  • ABV: 6.5%

I’m not sure what I was expecting other than a heavier, smoky beer. This was a fantastic diversion from my usual beer. This had the consistency of a stout but became a veritable Hillshire farm gift pack in a glass. This obviously isn’t a session beer but if you are looking for a diversion or a beer to pair with a heavy meal or some charcuterie, the Urbock will not disappoint.

Beer Review – Wachusett Blueberry Ale

Wachusett Blueberry Ale

With the warm weather hitting us hard, I was looking for something a little more refreshing than my typical bottle of stout. Not one to shy away from fruited beer, I picked up a bottle of Wachusett’s Blueberry Ale. I’ve had other blueberry beers (the Bar Harbor comes to mind) and some of the Samuel Smith Fruit Ales (raspberry and apricot) and some of the Leinenkugels (including the very sad, Shandy). So, I wasn’t in unfamiliar territory. I was looking for something with a decent amount of sweetness and a crisp, clean finish. Wachusett Brewing is a Massachusetts brewer that was founded in 1993 by three Worcester Polytechnic Institute graduates. They are known for a wide variety of beers including the Larry (an Imperial IPA), the Milk Stout and the Nut Brown Ale.

Before we get to my review, here is what Wachusett has to say about the Blueberry Ale:

Our Blueberry Ale defines the style. The slight aroma of blueberry is balanced by a subtle flavor that gets fermented into this delicious wheat ale. It’s the perfect, refreshing beer for any season.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Clear golden with light foam.
  • Aroma: Sweet malt and blueberries.
  • Taste: A little thin and little fizzy. Not as sweet as I had expected but not as much berry flavor either.
  • ABV: 4.5%

This was a very average fruit ale. It was very drinkable and very light but I don’t know that I would go back for another. On the plus side, it does come in a can so if you are traveling somewhere that prohibits glass (like a pool) it might be the best of what is available. For my money, I think I’d rather try another blueberry beer or go back to the Samuel Smith Apricot or a Magners Pear.

Days of Wine and (Four) Roses

I was a little intimidated when the Booze Dancing crew asked if I would guest post on their blog. I’m no whiskey, beer or really “anything” blogger, I just blog about what I like. But after reading many posts on “It’s just the booze dancing…” and seeing how often they referred to WWD, I felt like I was in my wheelhouse. Any blogger who regularly refers to Women’s Wear Daily, THE fashion newspaper, is a kindred spirit. And one I would like to write for.  And without further adieu…

whiskychoc-14The subject here:  Whiskey and Chocolate.  Specifically, Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon, Templeton Rye and the Vosges Mash Bill Truffle Collection.  I brought my generous supplies provided by the Baddish Group to a BBQ hosted by Stacey Snacks for an impromptu tasting.

whiskychoc-3The beautiful box was promising.

whiskychoc-5And it wasn’t long before Stacey and I broke into the chocolates.  Stacey forewarned me that she does not like truffles.  Then after she ate one she proclaimed, “Mmmm! Mmmmm! Mmmmm! I don’t like it!  I love it!”

whiskychoc-4The Whiskey truffle infused with Templeton Rye, tart cherry and tobacco was our favorite.  I can’t say I was able to really taste the rye, but it was delicious and complex.

As far as pairing them with the whiskey, that didn’t happen.  There was a lot going on in the food department thanks to Stacey’s great cooking.

whiskychoc-1That’s not to say they weren’t imbibed.  They were.  And for me, there will always be something reminiscent of Maraschino Cherries when I drink bourbon or rye.  Maybe it’s the memory of stealing that little red beauty out of the bottom of my parents’ Manhattan as a kid, but I always feel that there is one lingering nearby when I’m drinking one of those whiskeys.

whiskychoc-10And as coincidence had it, Stacey made a cherry cake.  Which was fabulous with the whiskey.

whiskychoc-11And the chocolate.

whiskychoc-12She even brought me a Maraschino cherry to enjoy along with it.

 These happened to be beautiful pink ones that have no red dye or corn syrup.

whiskychoc-9We also enjoyed a delicious Barbaresco with our cake which was very fruit forward – specifically, cherries!  As you can see above, bourbon, rye and Barbaresco may lead to talking with your hands.

And a night of whiskey, wine, cake and chocolate may lead to a very fun evening with friends.


Thanks to the Booze Dancing crew for letting me ramble on their blog, and thanks to the Baddish Group for the delicious samples!

Beer Review – Shipyard Brewing Pugsley’s Signature Series XXXX IPA

Shipyard Pugsley's XXXX

Recently, I was in Florida for Spring Break. Once, I had Spring Break visions of Ft. Lauderdale and bikini contests. Now, Spring Break is a trip to Cape Canaveral with three kids and a stay in a condo complex with an average age of Social Security. I’m not sure how things went off the rails but I digress. Anyway, I was in Florida and found myself in need of some libations and turned to the Liquor store next to the local Publix. Not much in the way of selection and certainly not as crafty as any place in South Jersey, but they had a number of pretty shiny bottles (when it comes to packaging, I’m your huckleberry) so I had a number to choose from. I picked up a bottle of XXXX IPA from Shipyard Brewing Company’s Pugsley’s Signature Series. The series is named after Alan Pugsley, the Master Brewer at Shipyard who was trained at the Ringwood Brewery in Hampshire, England before moving to the United States. The XXXX IPA is an American Double or Imperial IPA and is one of four beers in the Pugsley series with the Smashed Blueberry, the Smashed Pumpkin and the Mint Chocolate Stout.

Before we get to my review, here is what Shipyard has to say about the XXXX IPA:

XXXX IPA is a non-traditional American IPA with a brilliant copper color and the classic citrus nose of Cascade hops. This beer demonstrates a unique balance of malt-inspired, delicate red grapefruit sweetness and lingering hop dryness. In 2009, XXXX IPA won Silver Awards at the United States Open Beer Championships and Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Orange honey with light foam and lacing.
  • Aroma: Not much; sweet malt, a little doughy and a little bit of hops.
  • Taste: Smooth and refreshing but not as crisp as I would have thought. There is decent balance from the front sweetness to the hoppy finish.
  • ABV: 9.25%

Overall, I think I was expecting a bit more. This wasn’t a bad beer by any means, it just didn’t wow me. I was looking for a Weyerbacher Double Simcoe or a Founders Double Trouble. Instead I found an average beer.

Beer Review – Cigar City Hopped on the High Seas

Cigar City Hopped on the High Seas

Over the past five years, I have been to the Sunshine State (aka Florida) on five occasions, and the closest I’ve come to visiting the Cigar City Brewery was their mini brewpub in the Tampa Bay airport (sadly, there was no time to partake of their offerings). Thanks to my very positive experiences with their Jai Alai and Maduro Brown beers, I am ALWAYS looking for something new to try from this brewery. I’m currently on the hunt for Florida Cracker, but as of this writing, I haven’t been able to secure a can in Philadelphia. That being said, during a recent lunch time beer run to The Foodery, I saw something new in the refrigerator case from Cigar City that I’d never heard of , i.e. the can of Hopped on the High Seas that you see in the above photo, so I just had to pick one up for an eventual review.

Here’s the somewhat complicated story behind this beer taken directly from the Cigar City website:

This 60 IBU Caribbean-style IPA was brewed at the Cervezas del Sur Brewery in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The mango tree-lined streets of Ponce put us in a tropical mood and Hopped on the High Seas is the result of that Caribbean feeling. High Seas is a 7% ABV IPA dry-hopped exclusively with one variety of hop; 165 lbs of them in fact! And since we wanted to put this beer in our favorite container, the 12 oz can, a sea journey was required to get the beer back to Tampa for canning. We took the opportunity to add the dry-hops to the refrigerated shipping container prior to racking. Which means this beer truly was Hopped on the High Seas. As the beer made its way home, the gentle motion of the ocean worked to infuse the luscious aromatics of the hops. The result is big tropical aromas and flavors, light balancing malt backbone and a clean bitter finish.

Cue the Salsa music because it’s time to get to my impressions of this beer…

  • Appearance: Lightly cloudy pale amber color with a thick off white head that rises to about an inch. The foam dissipates slowly and leaves a good bit of lacing behind.
  • Aroma: Tropical indeed! I can almost hear Tito Puente and his band in the background as the mango, pineapple, and citrus aromas tickle my olfactory. All I need now is a beach or pool side hammock, a palm tree, and a girl named Maria to keep filling my glass!
  • Taste: Lightly carbonated with a medium mouthfeel. Starts off with a subtle honey sweetness and transitions quickly to a soothing hop bitterness. From start to finish there’s a subtle sweetness in the background that keeps the hops from dominating the palate. The finish is somewhat dry with a lingering bitter aftertaste.
  • ABV: 7%

Hopped on the High Seas is definitely a tasty IPA. Well balanced and oh so drinkable, this is a beer that I would love to try on tap. The only question is, how does it stand up against their Jai Alai which is much more readily available in these parts? Perhaps yet another side by side tasting is in order!

Event Review – The Art of Hibiki. A Blend of 24 Seasons.

Itty Bitty Bottles of Hibiki 17

On May 8, 2014, Miracle Max and I attended an event in New York called “The Art of Hibiki. A Blend of 24 Seasons”, the official launch of Hibiki 17 and Hibiki 21 in the United States. Much like last year’s Suntory 90th Anniversary event at the Noguchi Museum, the organizers had something very special for us to experience which made the same day roundtrip journey from Philly to New York so so worth it! Here are just a few of the highlights…

A Deconstructed Tasting of Hibiki

Three years ago, the Booze Dancing crew did a “deconstructed” tasting of the Sam Adams Latitude 48. In a nutshell, the Boston Beer Company released a 12 pack which contained their Latitude 48 IPA (made with several different hop varieties) along with a series of single hopped IPAs. The whole point of this release was to showcase the strengths and weaknesses of each hop variety when used on their own, and to show how they work together to make a better IPA when used to make the Latitude 48.

This “deconstructed” Hibiki tasting, which was led by Seiichi Koshimizu, Suntory’s Chief Blender, was very similar to the “deconstructed” Latitude 48 tasting, but with one significant difference: while a few of the single hop IPAs were rather ho-hum, the component whiskies that go into the Hibiki blend are like a Japanese Whisky All Star team (think 2012 USA Olympic Basketball Dream Team) that join forces to take on the best in the world when blended together to create Hibiki.

This wasn’t the first time that I’d heard of the Yamazaki single oak whiskies that are used to make Hibiki (click here to see what Miss Whisky had to say about these whiskies back in 2012), but it was the first time that I had the opportunity to actually experience them. During this tasting, we sampled the Chita Grain Pure Whisky, Yamazaki American White Oak Malt Whisky, Sherry Cask Malt Whisky, and Mizunara Cask Malt Whisky (the  Hibiki 17 and Hibiki 21 served as the grand finale). While all four component whiskies were delicious, I was most intrigued by the Chita Single Grain Pure Whisky which smelled and tasted absolutely fantastic (luscious vanilla buttercream comes to mind). When you first start learning about whisky, you are led to believe that grain whisky is like adding breadcrumbs to meatloaf, i.e. it’s just a filler or binding agent. Take a sip of Chita or Compass Box Hedonism and you will quickly learn that beautifully crafted grain whisky can easily hold its own against many a Single Malt. In case you couldn’t tell from my not so random keystrokes, this tasting was a truly eye opening experience which not only taught me the importance of blended whisky, it also taught me to appreciate all of the care that goes into balancing each of the individual elements that go into the finished product.

Water and Ice Matters

If you’ve read any of my whisky reviews or heard me talk about my whisky drinking habits on a WhiskyCast Virtual Tasting, then you already know that I rarely add water or ice to my whisky, regardless of ABV. There are two reasons for this: (1) I really like the intensity of whisky served neat, and (2) adding water or ice makes the whisky way too easy to drink, which leads to me drinking way too many of then in too short of a time. Basically, drinking it neat helps me pace myself and not get COMPLETELY schnockered.

The Japanese have a very different view of water and ice as it relates to whisky drinking. Throughout the evening, we were schooled on the art of drinking whisky with water and ice. In addition to the ice ball carving demonstration by Hidetsugu Ueno of Tokyo’s Bar High Five that you saw in the above YouTube video, we were also given the opportunity to sample Hibiki 12 Highballs, which were a refreshing change of pace from my usual whisky drinking habits. While I still prefer to drink my whisky “as is”, I have definitely learned to appreciate the subtle flavors that come through when you dilute your whisky a bit (I was enjoying a Cutty Sark Prohibition Highball during the photo editing process. Yum!). Watering and cooling it down also makes it much easier to pair your whisky with food, which leads to the next highlight of the evening…

Finger Food Pairing with Bouley & Brushstroke

The first rule of drinking is that you gotta eat! Thankfully, the event organizers thought of everything and had us covered on the food front. They once again secured the services of Chef David Bouley and Chef Isao Yamada of NYC’s Brushstroke (they handled the food/whisky pairing at last year’s Suntory event). We were treated to ten different snacks that were walked around throughout the night by a cadre of well dressed and highly professional waiters. “Slow Poached Pink Shrimp with Ginger Aromatic”, “Canadian Fuji-Pork Belly Confit with Peach, Sweet Ginger Vinegar Sauce”, “Barcelona Anchovy with Artichoke Puree, Aged Balsamic Reduction on Toast” (my favorite of the night! I must have had around 20 of them. I’m not kidding!), “Kuzu Crisp with Aligote, Black Truffle”, “Wagyu Sirloin Beef Jerky”, and “Hibiki 17 Infused Vanilla Macarons” were my personal favorites of the night, but truth be told, everything was beautifully prepared, beautifully presented, and absolutely delicious. A drink in one hand and a delightful, bite sized snack in the other. It was like I died and went to food and whisky pairing heaven!

Spending Time With the #WhiskyFabric

While the whisky and food was an absolute delight to taste and experience, what makes every trip to NYC truly special is spending time with the #whiskyfabric family. All of the usual suspects were in attendance: Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast, Josh Feldman of The Coopered Tot blog, Susannah of the What Tastes Good blog, and Allison Patel of Brenne and The Whisky Woman blog. In addition to these wonderful people, we also had the pleasure of finally meeting Sarah of the Beautiful Tangible Things blog. Without people like this to share in the experience, this event would have been just another whisky tasting!


In keeping with the Hibiki inspired themes of harmony and balance, I would like to give my #whiskyfabric family members an opportunity to chime in with their impressions of the event. Here’s what they had to say..

Miracle Max

It was a great event with everything being practically flawless, i.e. the space, the whisky, the people, the food, the generosity, and the hospitality were all excellent, but to me that wasn’t the most important part of the evening. I used to believe that the master blender’s job was to miraculously take a variety of ingredients that were a bit “off” and magically hide their flaws to create something at least “drinkable”. “This is too dry. This is too sweet, blend them. This is too woody, this is too flavorless, blend them!” Similar to how I try to make a meal using left-overs, a little of this. A little of that. OK! That’s “good enough”.

Don’t get me wrong, in the past I’ve been very pleased on numerous occasions by a blended whiskey, but my preconceived notion was that the ingredients were flawed, and that the blend was a great solution to their underlying issues. Those ideas of mine are now gone! Sure, that may be the case with many blended whiskeys, but not with Suntory’s Hibiki whisky. It was all laid out before us. Here are the component whiskies used to make the blend, they are great on their own, now we use them to create an even better product (and that’s saying something based on those component whiskies). This wasn’t hiding flaws, this wasn’t using left-overs, this was assembling an orchestra using the best musicians. A supergroup of kick-ass rock stars! I can’t believe we have to wait until the fall to get more of these great whiskies, but I’m sure glad they’re on the way. Maybe I’ll get a bottle of the 12 for the wait. :)

Sarah of the Beautiful Tangible Things Blog

Being a “newbie” to whisky events, I think I’ve been set up for disappointment in the future because this whisky tasting was just phenomenal!. It was so special to taste all of the components of Hibiki, and to hear Allison and Josh’s tasting notes (Max & G-LO kept their thoughts to themselves). I really loved the variety (and quantity!) of the passed finger foods (pork belly!!! Anchovies!! Truffles!!!). And of course, the company shared trumped it all. I was honored to be able to travel to Tokyo with you, friends, for the evening!

Susannah of the “What Tastes Good” Blog

Suntory brought together a disparate crowd of whisky buffs, media people, and Japanese ex-pats with surprising grace and elegance. The industrial space worked well, incorporating a nifty video installation and killer bar setup (with beautiful, Godzilla-sized, hand-chiseled ice cubes) and encouraged conversation among attendees. Passed hors d’oeuvres, focusing on simply presented seafood, nodded to Japanese culinary tradition and paired very well with the Hibiki, available in the 12, 17, and 21 year old expressions. Especially classy: the 21 year old Hibiki (rather than a younger, less expensive pour) was the “passed whisky” that roving servers brought around.

Even though I missed out on the educational part of the evening, I enjoyed hearing from the Master Blender and brilliant, entertaining bar owner who was overseeing the drinks (both of whose names escape me at the moment). And Josh Feldman (The Coopered Tot) had saved a few drams of the component whiskies that go into Suntory’s 17 year old so I could taste them. I particularly enjoyed the spirit aged in mizunara oak—a brand new set of flavors and aromas for me that I hope I’ll get to taste more of in the future. I’m looking forward to Suntory’s brands becoming more widely available now that they’re moving more deeply into the US via Beam Global.

Also: the theme of balance that pervades Suntory’s whiskies perfectly underpinned the evening to the point that I didn’t even overindulge! That’s how you know it was a superb event.

Allison of “The Whisky Woman” Blog

Suntory is a name that, to me, is becoming synonymous with: extreme attention to detail, elegance, and fun. No detail was too small to overlook and all seemed to be done with absolute perfection for a seamless and truly fantastic event. A few things of note: the origami tied silk scarfs around the press kits, the perfectly angled spot lights-meet-dim-mood-lighting, the music that was never too loud or jarring to take too much notice, but was never too quiet to make the event feel stuffy … it’s easy to think of every detail and be in awe (should we talk about the food!? Delicious and plentiful!), but at the end of the day, what we were all really there for was the whisky. And it was fantastic!

I most appreciated the guided tasting hour prior to the party. I found it extremely fascinating to explore the various whiskies as individuals that go in to making the Hibiki blend and certainly liked some more then others, though it would be hard to choose a favorite (however, let’s not pretend the ample pours of Hibiki 21yr weren’t divine!!!). Very grateful to Suntory and the amazing people at Exposure for inviting me to participate in such a special evening. It’s always wonderful to have some time to hang with members of the #whiskyfabric! I’m talking to you, G-LO, Susannah (What Tastes Good), Josh (Coopered Tot), Mark (WhiskyCast), Miracle Max, Sarah, and Bram! Can’t wait for Hibiki 17yr to be available in the US!


Many thanks to the good people at Suntory USA and Exposure for inviting us to this outstanding event!