Friday was a good day! Sharon (my wife) and I (Jon) headed down to London for a packed day of tourist and whisky related activities. We had a lovely lunch cruise on the Thames, a trip on the London Eye and dinner in Covent Garden, but what you’ll really be interested in is what we did at the Corinthia! By rights we were lucky to be there as it was my co-blogger Mike who had won the competition ran by Alwynne of Miss Whisky – picking up a lovely bottle of Hibiki 17 and a day out in London sampling Japanese whisky and enjoying cocktails in a private lesson. Fortunately for us Mike is a teacher, and even more fortunately it wasn’t holiday time for teachers, so he couldn’t get the time off work paving the way for Sharon and I to go down and step in!
We arrived at the Corinthia in good time and marvelled at its very luxurious decor. For those of you who don’t know this hotel is a new 5* establishment on the embankment and it is very plush! It was lovely to meet Alywnne in reception, and to put a face to a name we have been tweeting with over the past few months, and then she led us to the Basoon Bar which was closed to the general public until the evening! The bar is incredible – having an amazing array of spirits, fresh and dried fruit, drawers with frozen glasses inside them – and it was just for us this afternoon!! We met Zoran Peric (Suntory UK Brand Ambassador) and started the tasting with a bit of a history lesson and a very engaging presentation about the origins of Suntory and the whisky they make. We then moved on to try three whiskies in their range – Yamazakie 12, Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17. I have tried all of these before and we have blogged some notes here. However this time, the Hibiki 17 really stood out for me; I just loved the depth and complexity of the spirit and it just seemed to really sing in these surroundings! Sharon loved the Yamazaki 12 and I can see that this may well be a gift for her in the future!
It was then time to try some cocktails – Zoran is a renowned mixologist so we were particually excited about this element of the tasting. He made Sharon a unique apricot based drink using the Yamaziki; a cocktail Zoran hadn’t made before. She loved it – the whisky came through the fruit and it was incredibly refreshing. I then enjoyed a very well made Rob Rob using the Hibiki before Zoran made me an Old Fashioned. Crafted properly this cocktail takes 5-7 minutes, the vast majority of the time is spent stirring to achieve the correct level of dilution. Zoran started off by placing a brown sugar cube in the frozen glass and adding a touch of soda – just enough to allow it to be crushed easily. The ice was added along with some bitters and a generous dram of Hibiki 17. Zoran then commenced the stirring, only pausing briefly to add more ice as required. Orange peel and a fresh cherry was added to finish the cocktail. The result was a masterpiece – sweet, cold, refeshing and still allowing the whisky to shine! I am going to attempt this at home so stay tuned for the results.
All too quickly the afternoon ended, but not before I was given my own bottle of Hibiki 17! This was a real surprise and I am incredibly grateful! Sharon and I had an amazing afternoon – a massive thank you to Alwynne, (it was great to meet you, and hopefully our paths will cross again soon) Zoran, and to Suntory for the prizes – we throughly enjoyed it!
Please check out Miss Whisky’s great blog here for another review on the afternoon as well!