Suntory Ao

Suntory Ao, NAS, 43 %


The rules on what is Japanese whisky are releaxed, to say the least. A lot of imported spirit is “nationalized” and suddenly becomes “Japanese”. It is therefore great to see more transparency also from a big player like Suntory when they on April 16 this year launched their first world blended whisky. I got to try the Suntory Ao during my vacation in Japan this summer.

The name “Ao” means blue in Japanese, and is meant to signify the massive expanse of (blue) water connecting the five whisky regions that make up this world blend.

The Suntory Ao is made with spirit from five countries: Scotland, Ireland, USA, Canada and Japan. The distilleries involved are not disclosed. We do know that Beam Suntory owns (amongst many others) the following distilleries: Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita (all Japan), Bowmore and Laphroaig (both Scotland), Kilbeggan and Cooley (both Ireland), Jim Beam (USA) and Alberta Distillers (Canada). That gives you a general idea of where the components of the Suntory Ao might come from.

This is of course not the first “world whisky”. Other world whiskies include the brilliant Ichiro’s Malt & Grain, a “worldwide blended whisky”, composed of whiskies from the same five regions (see my review here).

The Suntory Ao costs around ¥ 5000 in Japan.

Nose: Mellow, mild and fruity on the nose. I find soft notes of banana, vanilla, malt and almonds. It comes across as harmonious and mysterious. Certainly has a Japanese feel to it. With time there is more caramel and pepper.

Taste: Medium body and smooth mouthfeel. The palate presents white pepper, ginger and vanilla. There is an ample selection of orchard fruits as well.

Finish: Medium long finish. Softly floral in character now. Caramel and vanilla ice cream round it all off.

Comment: Rock solid and pleasant.

Score 86/100

- Thomas

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