Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
I’ve had a soft spot for Suntory Whisky ever since I watched “Lost In Translation” in middle school. So, it’s difficult for me not to feel like I’m Bill Murray, wistfully watching the Tokyo skyline pass me by while “Death In Vegas” plays (moodily), whenever I have a glass. Lucky for me the company also makes good whisky, so I don’t have to lean too heavily on my nostalgic fantasies when writing my reviews.
Today’s Suntory masterpiece is their limited release World Whisky ‘Ao,’ a blended whisky that could only come from a juggernaut like Suntory, who has operations set up around the globe. The basic idea is that Suntory took whisky from five of their selected distilleries located in the most prominent whisky making locations: Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Japan, and the US (Kentucky). Then blended these whisky’s to create a Frankenstein bottle that supposedly contains the best attributes of each: “the heathery flavor of Ardmore and Glen Garioch in Scotland, the complexity of Cooley in Ireland, the smoothness of Alberta in Canada, the vibrance of Jim Beam in the US, and the subtlety of Yamazaki and Hakushu in Japan”.
What truly makes this blend a “Suntory Whisky” is the fact it comes from the mind (and nose) of “Master Blender” Shinji Fukuyo, only the 5th person to ever hold this title since Suntory’s inception. He is responsible for all Suntory blends, and has helped to shape the brand through his refined palate since 1984.
I think this is what makes for a really interesting thesis behind the bottle. Rather than focusing on one grain or one production method, we are getting a collage of whiskies that become Japanese in spirit due to their assembly by someone who has helped shape the identity of Japanese Whisky for decades.
Tasting Notes: Suntory World Whisky ‘Ao’
Vital Stats: 43% ABV. Blended from five unspecified whiskies across the Suntory portfolio. $55 for a 700ml bottle.
Nose: Slight smokiness that then turns into rich, fruity sweetness.
Palate: Light and sweet, more so than you would think based on the smell. Very mild heat, and only traces of the fruit that initially seemed so deep and rich to the nose. Hints of peat & smoke in the after taste.
Whisky Review: Suntory World Whisky ‘Ao’
A pleasant, though slightly mild, whisky that has more range the more your sip. It’s not the first bottle I would go to if I was seeking out a Suntory whisky, and probably not the second or third either. But I give credit to Suntory for a really interesting idea, even if the end result is just ‘ok’.
User Review5 (2 votes)
Born and raised in Portland, Oregon. I'm a former distiller at Jackson Hole Still Works in Wyoming. Fan of whiskey, golf, and especially whiskey and golf together.