About Ao Vodka
In February 1899, Shinjiro Torii opened a store in Osaka, Japan that traded in imported wines. Within a decade, Torii began producing his own sweet grape wine called Akadama Port Wine, which became wildly popular throughout the country. In 1923, Torri — fascinated by whisky his entire life — decided to expand his business and began construction of the Yamazaki Distillery, Japan's first-ever whisky distillery.
Although inspired by traditional Scottish distilleries, Torii envisioned a uniquely Japanese approach to whisky and chose a location for his distillery that offered a climate and terrain that were completely different than those of Scotland. Nestled on the periphery of Kyoto, Yamazaki Distillery is situated at the confluence of three rivers (the Katsura, Uji and Kizu) that provide the warm, damp environment ideal for the production and maturation of whisky.
Fifty years after the construction of Yamazaki Distillery, Keizo Saji inherited his father's vision and constructed Suntory's second distillery. Situated amidst the deep forests of Mount Kaikomagatake in Japan's southern Alps, the Hakushu Distillery enjoys a unique microclimate as a result of being surrounded by nearly 6,000 varieties of plants and thousand-year-old granite rocks.
While Suntory is known throughout the world for its remarkable whisky, the company has recently adopted its signature approach of “simplicity, refinement and subtle complexity” to an altogether new spirit for the distillery: vodka.
Crafted from 100% Japanese rice and water sourced from the island of Kyushu, Ao Vodka is distilled in small pot stills and clarified through bamboo filtration. The vodka takes its name from the Japanese word
ao, which, although it translates literally to “blue,” is used to describe the many shades of green in Japanese nature and culture, including the country’s distinct rice paddy landscapes.
Ao Vodka has a clean aroma of rice, coconut and sweet mint. The palate has a slight hint of banana leaves, and leads to a smooth, warming finish accented by notes of rice pudding.
Ao Vodka earned a Gold Medal at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
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Historians are not clear on the exact origin of vodka since different sources link its beginning to both Russia and Poland. But one thing is clear: this somewhat simple spirit, first used as a medicinal concoction, has become one of the most versatile drinks in the world.
It can be distilled from any type of grains, potatoes, or even grapes worldwide. Due to its simplicity, this unaged spirit's main flavor factor is the quality of water and the ingredients used in the distillation process.
Primarily used in cocktails, vodka can also stand its ground when enjoyed neat.
Check out our impressive selection of vodkas, find your new favorite in The best-reviewed vodkas, and explore our treasury of best vodka bottles under $50.