The Mikuni Japanese Whisky has arrived in the United States. The blended Whisky was introduced on this side of the Pacific by Suzuki-Marketing, a South San Francisco-based wine and spirits importer and marketing company.
The Mikuni is a blend of malt Whisky, grain Whisky, and fresh mountain water drawn from 250 meters (821 feet) underground, filtered through porous, volcanic rock, and blended by Master Blender Kenji Wantanabe. The Whisky is then aged three years in Bourbon barrels. The distillery faces Mt. Fuji, and is located in Yamanashi Prefecture, at the foot of Japan’s Southern Alps.
Jimmy Sai, Mikuni’s president, credits the worldwide popularity of Japanese Whisky for inspiring The Mikuni. “We could see that Japanese whisky is very well-received in the U.S., but that a lot of people are intimidated by the prices. Our goal was to create a whisky that reflects Japan’s whisky heritage, but that was also affordable to people trying Japanese whisky for the first time. And, of course, it had to taste really good.”
Richard Bischoff, Suzuki-Marketing’s vice-president of business development, first became aware of Japanese whisky in the summer of 2011. “We were visiting a wine store in Wakayama and had just finished dinner with our colleagues,” he said, “when somebody poured me a glass of 12-year-old Japanese whisky. Like many Americans, my first reaction was ‘Japan makes whisky?’ After my first sip, my second reaction was, ‘where have you been all my life?’ So, when Quinton Jay, at Bacchus Wine & Spirits, introduced us to Jimmy, we became very excited about this opportunity to bring this whisky to the U.S.”
The Mikuni is a clear, amber Whisky, with aromas of smoke, spices, pear and dried fruit. Upon tasting, there’s a little bite on the first sip, but then flavors open up and create a smooth, pleasant taste of honey, vanilla, brown spices and dried figs. It finishes with a hint of white oak and a spreading sweetness. It’s a versatile whisky that can be enjoyed on its own, in a traditional Japanese highball, or in another Whisky-based cocktail.