Monday, February 22, 2010

Whisky Live springs a surprise

Update 22.2.2010: Nicholas Coldicott, writer for the Japan Times and general Japanese drinks supremo, attended the event and was kind enough to share a few of his notes: "The real surprise for a lot of people was the trio of awards for Ichiro's Malt, and for those that tried it, the "newborn" whisky from the new Chichibu distillery, which is astoundingly mature tasting for something so young. When Ichiro's won the best single malt over 21 years category, Big Sight looked like it might topple over as the whole crowd surged to their booth for samples." On his Twitter feed, he also noted that he had tried the 25 yr old Yamazaki and Hakushu at Whisky Live: "Yamazaki is nice, Hakushu is absolutely sensational."

Konishiki at Whisky Live

Konishiki! If I had known Konishiki was going to be there, I would have bunked off work. For those for whom that name does not evoke nostalgia for a better time when sumo was not being spoiled by bullying Mongolian interlopers, but instead by monstrous Hawaiian interlopers: Konishiki was a legendary sumo wrestler in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Konishiki (right) wrestling

Konishiki was the archetypal big fat sumo wrestler. Indeed, if you have seen a picture of a big fat sumo wrestler, there is a very good chance it was him. He was the heaviest sumo rikishi in history at a fighting weight near the end of his career of over 280 kg. But the Hawaiian was not just big, he was also a very good wrestler: the first foreign wrestler to reach the elite rank of ozeki. There was a lot of controversy at the time that he wasn't made yokozuna, the highest honour, but that is an argument for another day. He has been the most successful of the foreign rikishi in establishing himself in Japan post-retirement. He is a television personality, with regular gigs on NHK children's TV as well as numerous TV ads and records to his name.

Anyway, Konishiki was at Whisky Live Tokyo at Odaiba on Sunday! Appropriate really: there are few better ways to drink whisky in Japan than over late night re-runs of the day's sumo bouts. As I said previously, work commitments meant I could not attend this year's event. I am kicking myself. I hope to get a report from the organisers on how things went and I am still pleading for any reports readers can send in (japanesewhisky gmail). Nonjatta reader John has been nice enough to send his impressions:

"I am new to the world of whisky but I had a great time at the Whisky Live 2010 Tokyo event. I joined the following seminars: Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki. Although, there was some overlap (Suntory Family). it was informative and worth the money.

Was unable to see the Punk piper show, but did see the cocktail: a "KonyD" named after the "Big" Special guest Koninshiki. The D stands for grated daikon, with whiskey and creme/milk. A little exotic, but was popular with a few female guests. My only regret - Why is this held on a Sunday?

You can see some of the slides and pics from the event at"

The photo at the top is from the shutterfly slideshow. The Konishiki wrestling image is a still from NHK coverage.

1 comment:

Chris J said...

Chris - I agree with the surprising depth of flavor from the newborn series. Well at least from the heavily peated one. At first I thought it was all peat, but there are other flavors hiding behind the peat curtain. Add some water and it significantly changes the profile. Hopefully we will be able to taste it when it matures more.