August 8, 2012

Event Recap: Japanese Whisky Tasting (SF)

by Kayoko

Photos by Erin Gleeson

Please excuse my great delay in writing this post — I have not had a chance to write much but I have been thinking about you all and have lots to talk about. Back in June, Umami Mart helped host a Japanese whisky tasting event for Father’s Day, with Suntory and Cask, a posh liquor shop in San Francisco.

What a wonderful event! We held two seminars on Japanese whisky at a swanky new underground bar Local Edition, to a crowd of enthusiasts and eager listeners. Many had not had much Japanese whisky before, so this was a real treat!

Neyah White of Suntory whisky led the seminar, and took us on a fascinating journey through the history of whisky in Japan, and the rise of Suntory (owner of Yamazaki, and many other brands of whisky such as Hibiki and Hakushu).


Neyah White talks to a sold-out crowd.


Tasting set-up


Local Edition bar

The most crucial way to learn about the whiskies themselves, we learned, was to taste each component of what goes into Suntory’s whisky blends. We learned that blending brings complexities and rounds out flavor of the spirit.


Tasting!

Neyah brought all sorts of goodies from his stash for us to taste. Whiskies that had been aged in sherry casks, Spanish oak, plum wine casks, and various grain samplings.

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And of course Hakushu, Hibiki, and Yamazaki!


Whiskies of Suntory

Funny enough, there weren’t very many people who actually came with their fathers! People mostly came with their husbands/wives, lovers and friends. In any case, it was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon — learning and tasting, concentrating hard to identify all the elements and notes in each drink.

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After the tasting, we walked right upstairs, where attendees picked up their bottle of Yamazaki whisky (included in the ticket price) at Cask.

The bottle of whisky was wrapped for the attendees, in a furoshiki cloth designed by artist Shinsuke Kawahara, specially for Father’s Day:

Cask was kind enough to let me set up a little booth in the corner, where I sold Japanese barware from the Umami Mart Shop. That’s me!

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We hope everyone enjoyed the event! Hopefully we will have another tasting like this soon.

Hugs and a big thank you to: Neyah White, Amanda Womack, Amy Murray, Yamazaki, Cask, Local Edition and Erin Gleeson.

4 Comments

  • Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Neyah actually stopped by PDT last night, and somehow I forgot to ask him a question I’ve had for a while, which is, what is the main difference between Yamazaki 12 and Hakushu 12? Is it the barrel?

  • Kayoko
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I’m going to say the water. The Hakushu distillery sits at the base of a mountain where the water is revered by folks all over the country. See my post here about Hakushu’s water, specifically here:
    http://www.umamimart.com/2011/12/radiation-japan-drinking-water/

    Let me ask Neyah about the other differences. You can always ask Gardner if you see him too.

  • Kayoko
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Just as I suspected! Here’s what Neyah says (in 140 characters): “different distilleries! Hakushu is in the Mountains of Yamanashi, Yamazaki is a valley outside of Kyoto. Diff h2o = diff whisky”

  • Posted August 12, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Thanks for this wee insight into Japanese whisky. It’s something that I’ll have to try myself because I was a bit skeptical at first, but it seems from more and more blogs that they are producing top class whiskies.

One Trackback

  • By HAPPY NEW YEAR! « Umami Mart on December 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    [...] at Prizefighter, Ramen Night at Sutton Cellars, and a Japanese whisky tasting with Suntory for Father’s Day. Then holy cow, we opened a shop in Oakland! Designed by the talented Dane Anders Arhøj! It has [...]

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