Despite that history, Suntory whisky is "not Scotch made in Japan," points out Eric Ariyoshi, a Suntory brand manager based in San Francisco. One of Torii's goals was "to really create a Japanese whisky that catered to a more subtle palate," says Ariyoshi. "If you think about Japanese food it tends to be on the lighter side, very subtle flavors. One of his specific goals was to create a whisky that fits into that palate."
"There clearly has been a whiskey revival over the last decade and consumer interest is at an all-time high," he said. "You have the explosion in the number of small craft distillers getting into the whiskey game. Consumers have become more and more interested in trying these new and different products and there's no doubt some very good whiskies being made in Japan."
Elegant and smooth, Hibiki uses old plum liqueur casks for aging some components and a bamboo charcoal filter that "just mellows out the flavor. Gives it a very sweet and gentle flavor," Ariyoshi says. In a nod to tradition, the Hibiki packaging has 24 facets to represent the ancient Japanese calendar that divided the year into 24 "seasons."
Chef and owner Sang Yoon, who also has a Father's Office in Santa Monica, couldn't find a way to mesh the whisky with his menu, but since he likes it, he kept a bottle at his LA location for friends. Those in the know ask for "Relaxing Times," a tagline from a Suntory advertising campaign that was also in "Lost in Translation." If Murray happens to stroll in, bartenders have been advised he can just ask for "a me," Yoon says. (Google News)