Traditionally, the world’s hottest vodkas have hailed from legacy distilling locations similar to Russia, Poland, and Sweden. These international locations have gifted the world with beloved manufacturers together with Smirnoff, Belvedere, and Absolut, respectively. In newer years, USA-made vodkas have skyrocketed in reputation, with labels like Tito’s, Hangar 1, and Crop Natural shortly gobbling up helpful market shares. However lately, a shocking newcomer has emerged on the worldwide taking part in area that’s poised to shake issues up inside the vodka class: Japan.
Up till a number of years in the past, most Individuals would have been hard-pressed to call a Japanese alcoholic beverage apart from sake. At finest, they may have been capable of rattle off a Japanese beer, like Sapporo or Kirin. However that dialog shifted drastically in 2015, when Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible topped Home of Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 the World’s Greatest Whiskey―beating out stiff competitors from the likes of Scotland, Eire, and america.
The 50 Greatest Whiskeys within the World
Since then, folks from everywhere in the globe have turned their sights to Japan, eagerly anticipating their subsequent transfer. Now, with Suntory’s newest launch, Haku Vodka, the long run is obvious.
“World appreciation for Japanese tradition and craftsmanship is on the rise,” says Gardner Dunn, U.S. senior model ambassador for Home of Suntory. “We’ve seen this within the continued improve in demand for our Japanese whisky portfolio, however we’re additionally seeing a broader urge for food for different well-crafted premium Japanese merchandise, like Haku.”
The vodka was launched solely for the U.S. market lower than one yr in the past, however has already constructed a loyal following. Made out of 100% white rice, the spirit embodies extra than simply one other vodka. It’s a illustration of Japanese tradition at its most interesting.
“Pure, white Japanese rice is revered as a luxurious. It’s the last word image of Japan,” says Kazuyuki Torii, Suntory’s senior specialist for gin and spirits, and one of many masterminds behind Haku Vodka. “Historically, it was reserved for worship, in addition to for the noble lessons, together with the Imperial Household. By utilizing it for Haku, it conveys Suntory’s dedication to working with the very best and most genuine elements from Japan,” Torii provides.
The method begins in Kagoshima, Kyushu, a area traditionally famend for producing rice-based spirits. Right here, white rice is fermented with koji rice to create a mash, which is first distilled in pot stills, then distilled a second time utilizing two totally different processes to create a uniquely flavored base spirit. From there, the liquid is mixed and filtered by means of bamboo charcoal in Osaka, Japan.
Larceny’s New Barrel Proof Bourbon Ought to Be Your First Buy of 2020
As of in the present day, Haku is the world’s solely vodka comprised of Japanese white rice and filtered by means of bamboo charcoal, which succeeds at preserving and enhancing the rice’s delicately candy flavors. The proprietary method could also be painstaking, but it surely’s what units Haku aside from its international competitors, whereas showcasing the model’s emphasis on creating an genuine Japanese masterpiece.
“Bamboo is plentiful in Japan and is one other icon of Japanese nature,” says Torii. “Bamboo charcoal has been used to filter water for a lot of centuries. It not solely has the power to take away extra impurities than different charcoals, resulting from its distinctive porous construction, but it surely’s additionally wealthy in minerals that, when imparted in water, enhance the flavour and make the liquid smoother.”
The identify, branding, and packaging have been additionally every fastidiously thought-about earlier than its debut. The identify “Haku” was chosen as a result of it actually interprets to “white,” rooted within the phrase hakumai, which is Japanese for “white rice.” However the subtlety of the language and flexibility of its kanji characters enable for a number of nuanced meanings. For instance, “haku” may also be used to evoke “junpaku,” alluding to untainted brilliance―a intelligent play on phrases as an instance the spirit’s pure elements and clear, crisp qualities.
The Greatest Seasonal Beers to Drink This Fall That Aren’t Pumpkin
Its bottle additionally mirrors the vodka’s professional craftsmanship whereas paying homage to Japanese tradition. A collection of curved traces run up and down the physique of the glass bottle, representing the glistening streams of water that move throughout Japan’s dramatic landscapes. Even the label design (embellished with kanji calligraphy with sumi ink) is made utilizing pure white Junpaku washi paper, symbolic of Japanese white rice and the star ingredient behind the vodka.
“Haku affords an amazing alternative for craft spirits fanatics who’re keen to find new tastes and experiences, Japan lovers who search the standard and the cultural strategy of our merchandise, and Suntory followers who belief our meticulous strategy to spirit-making,” says Dunn. “With the launch of Haku, we’re persevering with to show our dedication to staying true to this philosophy with an modern and difficult spirit.”
2019 Beer Report: The 30 Greatest New Brewpubs in America
The success of Haku inside the U.S. market has proved that Individuals are nonetheless excited in regards to the vodka class as an entire, and―extra importantly―prepared to present newcomers and underdogs a shot. Solely time will inform if the intrigue will final, or if most of the people will develop fatigued. However, Suntory’s latest triumph will proceed to usher in an optimistic wave of wholesome competitors from different distillers within the area.
“We’ve already seen a rise in Japanese spirits flooding the market, and curiosity from customers,” says Dunn. “With the launch of Haku, Suntory is paving the best way for extra manufacturers…some good, some dangerous,” he warns.
The artisanal spirit could be present in your native bottle store or by means of on-line retailers like Drizly for lower than $30. Questioning methods to take pleasure in it? That each one comes down to private choice. For diehard vodka-lovers, Dunn recommends consuming it neat or on the rocks to understand its barely floral aroma and starchy, candy taste. For cocktail connoisseurs, he proposes mixing up a Haku-Hello.
Courtesy of Home of Suntory
Methods to Make a Haku-Hello
1.5 components Haku Vodka
four.5 components chilled premium soda water
Fill a highball glass to the brim with ice. Add Haku and prime with chilled soda water. Stir and garnish with a lemon peel.