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Monday, October 26, 2020

Beam Suntory Announces Blended Whisky 'Ao'

Beam Suntory has announced a new whiskey blended of whiskey from five distilleries across five countries (Japan, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the US) called Ao. It will be available exclusively at to global travel retail (e.g. duty free shops at airports). 

Fifth generation Suntory chief blender, Shinji Fukuyo, selected the liquids used to make up this whiskey blend and he states: 

Ao is an exceptional whisky which, through the art of Suntory blending, allows you to enjoy the unique characteristics of all five major whisky-making regions.

The name Ao (碧, Ao in Japanese) is a reference to the color of the ocean and a tribute to the five countries that make up the blend. The bottle is five sided as well and features calligraphic lettering was written by Japanese calligrapher Tansetsu Ogino. The blends are thought to be Ardmore and Glen Garioch, Cooley, Alberta, Jim Beam, and Yamazaki and Hakushu.

The whiskey comes in at 86 proof (43% alcohol) and carries a 65€ / $71 retail price and offers the following tasting notes:

Nose - profound vanilla, pineapple-like fruitiness on top, a creamy sweetness and depth with a lingering woody aroma

Taste - smooth and sweet mouthfeel, gradually followed with smokiness and cinnamon-like spiciness

Finish - sweet and smoky, spicy and woody, a many-layered complexity

It will be available in the following markets:

  • United States
  • Australia
  • Canada 
  • China 
  • Dubai
  • France 
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands 
  • Singapore 
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey 
  • UK
  • India 
  • South Korea

My Take

This is the first release that I've seen that is exclusive to global travel retail and it's an interesting concept. I had no idea that global travel retail is a $75 billion dollar industry that is expected to double by 2025. By releasing there, it gives Beam Suntory a huge market where they can see which geographies this is popular in before expanding and committing marketing and distribution dollars in that area. 

In terms of the whiskey, it's interesting to have a blend of so many different styles. I really can't imagine what this would taste like. I think it would be like going to Burger King as a child and mixing all the pop flavors. Sadly, this is only available at global retail shops so it's not something the vast majority of us will ever get to try. 

What do you think? Let me know in the comments. 

Source: Beam Suntory

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