We went to La Maison du Whisky last night with a friend and I tried some Hibiki 12 made by a Japanese distiller named Suntory. I first saw Hibiki in the Tokyo airport on our move to Singapore and I’ve heard that Japanese whisky can be good, but I wasn’t ready to shell out $70 on something I might not like ($70 was duty-free. Here in Singapore, a bottle of their 12 year old goes for around S$120).
Having tasted it, I find it’s more smoky and peaty than I expected – actually more akin to an Irish whisky or Scotch than to American whisky. When I looked at the back of the bottle, it made sense. It was bottled in Scottland.
Bowmore is a distillery that produces scotch whisky on the isle of Islay, an island of the Inner Hebrides. The distillery, which lies on the South Eastern shore of Loch Indaal, is one of the oldest in Scotland and is said to have been established in 1779. The distillery is owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd, a holding company owned by Japanese drinks company Suntory.
I followed the Hibiki with an old fave; Buffalo Trace bourbon and there is just no comparison. Bourbon is more smooth, more sweet, and by far more enjoyable to sip neat.
Again from Wiki:
Buffalo Trace Distillery is a distillery located in Frankfort, Kentucky. It has historically been known by several names, including most notably, the George T. Stagg Distillery and the O.F.C. Distillery. Its namesake bourbon brand, Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey, was introduced in August 1999. The company claims the distillery is the oldest continuously-operating distillery in the United States. Located on what the company claims was once an ancient buffalo crossing on the banks of the Kentucky River in Franklin County, the distillery is named after the American bison.
One of the factors contributing to Buffalo Trace’s great bourbon is the limestone water from the Kentucky river. I spent many summers as a child on the Kentucky river, catfishing with green worms 1 and riding a friend’s Honda 100cc dirt bike. Some day I’d like to go back and visit the river and also some of the distilleries.
At any rate, for this whisky showdown, the bourbon wins.