Wrapping up holiday shopping?  Have you considered the elegant gift of Japanese Whisky?  And more Wine & Spirits & Beer options for the Season—a Blog by Gary Cummins, Cooper Consultant

Japanese Whisky

The history of Western spirits in Japan is relatively recent. Japan had closed its borders to outsiders for over 200 years to limit the cultural influences of European traders. Then in1853, this isolation came to a dramatic end when the American Commodore Matthew Perry rolled into Tokyo Harbor with a small fleet of advanced warships demanding the two countries begin trading. The Convention of Kanagawa was formalized under the threat of force. Trade between the West and Japan began anew.  Perry’s crew left a 110-gallon barrel of whisky for the Japanese as a parting gift. The dark, mysterious spirit was a big hit. But there was a problem: no one knew how to recreate the barrel’s contents.

The Japanese had realized, due to their isolation, they were very far behind the west. In response, Japan sent ambassadors and scientists across Europe and North America to learn about modern governance, science and education. After many failed attempts over the years to create whiskey enter into the picture, the story of two young, adventurous, visionary men who ventured away from their families successful historic businesses, to pursue the dream of creating Japanese whisky.

Shinjaro Torri was destined to follow in his families Pharmaceutical business, on the contrary he wanted to create authentic whisky, a Japanese whisky that reflected the nature of Japan along with the spirit and craftsmanship of Japan

Masataka Taketsuru’s family had built a historic family Sake business, sending him to England in 1918 to study chemistry with the plan that he would return to the Sake business.  Masataka found a passion for Scotch, ending up apprenticing at several distilleries before heading back to Japan where he partnered with Shinjaro, to form what would become Suntory Distillery.  Dome years later with contrasting visions for the business, Masataka left to form Nikka.

Wakon yosai (和魂洋才) means “Japanese spirit with Western learning.” This phrase became the rallying cry for the Japanese after the reintroduction to the West, a phrase that certainly applies to the creation of Japanese Whisky.                                        Japanese Whisky is characterized by its blend of traditional Scottish distilling methods and Japanese craftsmanship. The use of excellent spring water, high-quality grains, and careful cask selection for maturation are crucial elements in Japanese whisky production. Moreover, special attention is often given to achieving a balance between subtlety and complexity to create a unique and harmonious flavor. Some of the nuances found are the result of aging in Mizanara Oak.                                              Today Japan is the fourth-largest producer of whisky in the world.

Japanese Whisky Features

Suntory Yamzaki – Toki                                                                                                                                     

A blended whisky comprises grain and malt whiskies from the company’s three distilleries: Hakushu, Chita, and Yamazaki. Created by Fifth Generation Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo challenges the convention hierarchy and roles between malt and grain whisky, by highlighting the quality of the Chita grain whisky not as a base but in equal standing to the Hakushu malt whisky. The select Yamazaki malt adds further depth and complexity to this vivid blend. Components have been aged in a combination of American white oak and Spanish oak.  $34.98

Suntory Hibiki Harmony                                                                                                                     

Hibiki is Suntory’s masterpiece,” “The word means ‘resonance,’ and Harmony is a beautiful expression of that resonance.” With Hibiki Japanese Harmony, the company blends together at least 10 malt and grain whiskies and five different cask types (Malt whisky aged in American oak, Chiata Grain, Sherry cask malt, Mizunara Malt and Smoky Malt)  to create a pleasing, “harmonious” blend.  $89.98

Nikka Coffey Grain                                                                                                                                        

This Grain Whisky, created from 95% corn and 5% Barley, is distilled in a “Coffey still,” which is a very traditional and rare patent still Nikka imported from Scotland in 1963. The Coffey still produces a complex whisky with a mellow and sweet taste originating from the grain itself. Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky wafts of banana candy, tropical fruit, soft caramel notes, and an underlying note of sweet corn. On the palate, light vanilla, golden raisins, lemon zest, and crème brûlée notes come together in a flavor profile that is uncannily reminiscent of a fine, sleek bourbon.   $72.98                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Domestic Holiday Whiskey Features

Makers Mark Private Selection “Spring & Dean” Single Barrel -10 Stave Selection

Maker’s Mark’s Private Selection Program allows customers who own bars, restaurants, or retail shops to create their own take on the popular bourbon.  Distillery Statement: Makers Mark created a wood finishing series to explore unique expressions of our signature Makers Mark.  Our private selection allows for our loyal fans to customize their own barrel with 10 selected oak staves. This creates a very rare Bourbon measured by by the tastes imparted by the combination of oak staves. The program finishes cask strength Makers’ Mark for nine extra weeks in barrels specially fitted with wood-finishing staves.                               $69.98

Festive Holiday Wines 

2019 Big Basin “Rattlesnake Rock” Syrah  (Santa Cruz)                                                                     

Big Basin is a small production, artisanal winery located in Boulder Creek California. The vineyard is terraced into a steep hillside that was planted to grapevines by French immigrants more than 100 years ago.                                                                This vintage of Rattlesnake comes entirely from the original planting of a Cote Rotie field selection. .This is the first year not co-fermented with viognier and alos the first year 100% whole cluster fermented.  An especially complex and exotic nose with deep brooding Syrah savoriness, with a floral, violet / lavender lift to the nose  The wine has tongue smacking mid palate power while remaining seductive and elegant.  Olallaberry, huckelberry, cigar box and delicate Indian spice meld together and linger for a long time in a beautiful finish.

Coopers Price $58.99     Mixed Case Price $47.19

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2019 Domaine Guy et Yvon Dufouleur Santenay “Les Genets”    (Beaune)                                                                                                      

Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur was established on the slopes of Nuits-Saint-Georges in 1596 Four hundred years is a long time for any winery, and through the centuries the family has acquired a whopping 28 hectares of prime vineyard sites extending from Fixin to Santenay.  “Clos Genets” is located on a 3.3 acre plot on top of the village of Santenay.  The 40+ year old vines produce very small yields                                                                                                                                                   Dark purple in color. Its bouquet is reminiscent of rose petals, peony, violet, red fruits on a hint of licorice. Intense attack on the palate, firm tannins, smooth body and robust. Nice aromas of blueberry on a lingering finish.    .                                                    Coopers Price $54.99     Mixed Case Price $43.99

2019 Cartello Cabernet Sauvignon   (Alexander Valley)                                                                                            

2019 was a wonderful vintage with warm mild days during the growing season which allowed for full ripening and a bountiful harvest. The wines are layered, showing depth and balance. Cartello Cabernet Sauvignon is quintessential Sonoma Cab. Round and generous, it’s everything you’d expect, but there’s no denying it’s seriousness from the quality of the farming, fruit and time spent in French oak. Aged 24 months in 50% new and 50% 2nd use oak, the end result is a class in restrained power from the region. Supple tannins, gorgeous fruit integrated oak. oak.                                                                                              Coopers Price $39.99     Mixed Case Price $31.99

2016 Cucina Luisin “Asili” Barbaresco                                                                                                              

In Italy, there ae 3B’s, in Italian wine, Brunello, Barolo and Barbaresco. With nothing against Tuscany, but nothing matches the transformative power and grace of Nebbiolo from the villages of Barolo and its neighbor Barbaresco.                                          One of Barbaresco’s oldest and most iconic producers, the Minuto family is an eighth generation family that has been producing wines since the 1860’s. The Estate encompasses eight hectares of 45-65 year old vines producing nervy, expressive, highly traditional wines from some of Barbaresco’s best vineyard sights.                                                                                                    Boldly structured with notes of oolong tea, rose petals, wild mushroom stock, red fruits, Maraschino cherries underscored by youthful tannins and a keen mineral tension.

Coopers Price $59.99     Mixed Case Price $47.99

Holiday Beers

La Chouffe – The gnomes of Fairyland are particularly fond of this golden beer with its slight hoppy taste, combining notes of fresh coriander and fruity tones, it is the drink which gives them their zest for life.  A golden beer with a refreshing touch of citrus  $15.99 / 4pk 12oz bottles

Prarie Artisan Ales Xmas Bomb – An amazing base stout from Prairie Artisan Ales, is the best beer for this season! Left to age on espresso beans, vanilla beans, chocolate, featuring ancho chile peppers, and additional Christmas spices that bring a blast finish. Treat yourself with this popular holiday imperial stout!  $9.99 / 12oz bottle

Wood Boss Coming In From The Cold – Come in from the cold and enjoy this beautiful winter warmer spiced with Orange Peel, Ugandan Vanilla, Bourbon Soaked Cinnamon and Cloves. Brewed with Crystal Rye, Malted Rye, Flaked Barley and other specialty grains.   $13.98 / 4pk – 16oz cans

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