Yoshimi and the Yamazaki

The Yamazaki 12 year old Single Malt Whisky
& 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips

Do you realize that everyone you know someday will  die?
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes
Let them know you  realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun don’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning ’round

So I’ve had a run on pairings the past few days but today was my birthday and I got this awesome bottle as part of the celebration so what better way to finish out the evening than to do a little work? Right? Well, it is a Monday night birthday, so we decided not to paint the town. Who am I kidding? This isn’t about work, this is all about the things I love, so on with the pairing!

Tonight, I’ve paired another Japanese whisky. This is the second in my sampling of fine whisky from the land of the rising sun. The Yamazaki is a single malt barley based whisky that I must say, even though it’s price is a bit less than the Hibiki I paired a few months back, it has a more buttery, peppered flavor that seems to be resonating with me much more than the Hibiki did. It’s sultry and it’s silky, much as the Hibiki was but with this rich and buttery under current; well it has me wishing I could fairly sample the two side by side. Since I can’t do that, I think if I had to pick between the two 12-year-old versions of these whiskys from memory, I’d probably have to go with the Yamazaki right now. Of course, it is the one that’s sitting in my glass in front of me at the moment, so I think that may be swaying the favor in its direction for sure.

This edition of Yoshimi and the Pink Robots has been issued on a beautiful red colored vinyl and sounds absolutely fantastic. It’s truly yet another one of those vinyls that I can’t imagine not having in my collection. I’m super thrilled every time I pull this album out and place it upon the platter. The Lips have a way of stretching the dynamic range of a composition to the point that you think your system is bound to start distorting and the speakers smoking at any moment. It truly rocks! The synth sounds on this album alone are worth the audiophile experience of playing it through a decent system on vinyl. Not to mention the freaking great songs that are on this release. Always one of my favorites from the Lips, Yoshimi certainly seems to coincide beautifully with the Yamazaki SIngle Malt.

All in all, it’s been a wonderful birthday and I have much to be thankful for. As I head into another year, I’m reminded of all of the experiences, joys and journeys this life has to offer us all. I truly hope you are all savoring it up like a whisky refined and aged for a decade or so to be sipped and enjoyed on a special occasion as each day is.

Many would say this blog is a fluff piece that has nothing to do with nothing but I suppose it’s all in how you look at the leisures of life. Are they fluff or are they inspiration? Are they necessary or are they distraction? For me personally, the pleasures such as wine, spirits, vinyl records, art, music and love are the things that inspire daily and remind us all of what we are here for. Believe me people, it isn’t politics and self-imposed borders that matter.

Matters of the heart get us through the day. It’s not bank accounts, jobs or family lineage that define us; it’s about how we choose to live our lives day by day and how we choose to treat each other. This is what defines us. It is what becomes us and it is what we reflect into the rest of the world about who we are, what we want and where we come from.

To me, it’s all just the stuff of life, which I truly hope we all have a chance to taste and enjoy, each and every day of our lives. The time is now because… do you realize…?

Until next time my friends! Cheers!

Silky Metal Kimono

12 Year Old Hibiki Japanese Blended Whisky and a Japanese Import Edition of the Scorpions Tokyo Tapes

Delicious rays of whiskey gold from the eastern shores of Japan. While not the first locale that comes to mind when you think of great whiskey but let me just say; it truly should be. The legendary Hibiki represents true harmony. The enigma of perfection, the paragon of the art of whisky and the art of Japan’s artisans.

Hibiki, meaning resonance in Japanese, speaks to the soul and emotions of the most discerning whisky lover. Hibiki resonates from nature, and all the subtleties found from the twenty-four seasons of the old Japanese lunar calendar. Numerous types of pure single malt whiskies ageing in various types of casks, including Mizunara, a very rare Japanese oak, all combine to create a full orchestra of flavors and aromas.

I sampled the Hibiki neat, straight up to truly savor the craftsmanship that went into this blended art. I put on “Tokyo Tapes” as I usually do starting with side B of this 4 sided live behemoth of soulful classic metal. A song like “We’ll Burn the Sky” just kicks things off in the Scorpions spirit for me. I usually go back to side one before switching to the second vinyl. The only downside toi the Tokyo Tapes in my opinion is the rocibilly cover songs they threw into the live set. I mean I get the nostalgia but it’s the Scorpions man not Carl Perkins!

Uli Jon Roth’s early work in my opinion is probably best represented by this particular recording. I’m not as much a fan of the neo-classical, Yngwie like stylings he perfected after this era. I’m much more of a fan of this Hendrix esq bluesy era and I’ve got to admit, he’s one of the only guitarists that when I listen to his playing, I feel as though I can truly visualize exactly what he’s playing. Almost as if, I’ve played the parts myself. There’s not many guitarists that I relate to on this level. Essentially, this era of his playing is so much like what I aspire to do with the guitar and so similar to my own style that I can actually picture in my mind what and how he’s playing it. It’s a bit bizarre.

Anyway, enough of my Uli Jon Roth guitar visualizing. Back to the whiskey!

On the trivia side of things, any fan of the movie “Lost in Translation” may recognize the Hibiki as the whisky Bill Murray was hawking in the movie. As one of my favorite movies this only makes this whiskey that much hipper.

Upon taking my first sip of the 12-year-old Hibiki the first thing that came to mind was “Silk”. It’s truly a silky smooth vibe as this creation hits your palette and slides down the back of your throat. Then the kaleidoscope finish of flavors kick in. The woody hint of the barrels that reveal themselves slowly with a long finish that lasts for two or three minutes with clean and sweet notes predominant before a cool spiciness reminiscent of white pepper emerges towards the finish.

I actually own the original USA pressing of “Tokyo Tapes” but that copy is in such bad shape that I had to reinvest in another copy. I found this Japanese import gem using musicstack.com which is a great services for searching independent resellers of used vinyl and CD’s to find that special edition you might be looking for. I’ve ordered numerous times from various dealers and have had nothing but great experiences each time. This Japanese pressing of Tokyo Tapes is remastered and features a much cooler cover image, that of an embossed silver scorpion perched upon a rose. Way slicker than the American pressing that I grew up with. In terms of audio quality I have to lean towards the original pressing before the remaster. As with many reissue remasters, this one sounds a bit flatter and was probably digitized before it went back to the wax. So while this edition is truly a great looking package; I may need a third copy and just get a better conditioned US pressing to replace my old thrashed copy.

I truly can’t wait to try more of the Hibiki, this being the youngest aged whiskey they make, I can only imagine what the older vintages might reveal. Someday. Oh yes, someday soon my new Japanese friend Hibiki. we will meet again!