Combining whiskies across country boundaries is nothing new. But House of Suntory’s new release, Suntory World Whisky Ao, represents an ambitious global initiative to combine whisk(e)y across three continents and five countries.
Ao is House of Suntory’s first-ever “world-blended” whisky and features a blend from five of the world’s most renowned whisky regions, utilizing Suntory Group’s own distilleries. The whiskies involved include Ardmore and Glen Garioch in Scotland, Cooley in Ireland, Alberta in Canada, Jim Beam in the U.S. and Yamazaki and Hakushu in Japan.
“Ao is an exceptional whisky which, through the art of Suntory blending, allows you to enjoy the unique characteristics of each of the five major whisky-making regions,” says fifth-generation Suntory Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo.
The concept sneaks into the package design as well: “Ao” (meaning blue) is named after the oceans that connect these whiskies together, and the bottle is five-sided in honor of the five major whisky-making regions. It’s not the first whisky to hit up so many different countries and certainly not the most — That Boutique-y Whisky Company offers up a world blend that utilizes 14 different countries and distilleries, and Barrell Craft Spirits has an Infinite Barrel Project that utilizes whisk(e)y from four countries — but a release from House of Suntory does mark possibly the most mainstream world whisky blend.
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So, how is it? We got an advance taste — darker honey/amber in appearance with a lot of malt and tropical fruit on the nose, the whisky features a rich mouthfeel with biscuit, cherry, citrus and butterscotch candy on the palate, with just the right amount of smoke and wood spice. It’s a nice balance of all five styles.
While previously available in Japan and at Global Travel Retail, Suntory World Whisky Ao will be available soon in the U.S. for a suggested retail price of $55 for a 700ml bottle.
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