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Whiskey, anyone?

First, I realize it is entirely futile to find anything of quality or up to high standards in San Diego. I know I'm an idiot because I enjoy meals as restaurants that are nothing but cafeteria food, and my achingly low standards indicate my complete inferiority to the elite chowhounds.

And, just to prove it, I'll tell you I know nothng of fine whiskey.

Thus, my plea. A very good friend enjoys a fine whiskey called Hibiki- it's Japanese, and my friend enjoys it enough that it rarely remains in the cupboard.

I'm interested in buying something similar as a gift for my friend- similar quality and style, but not the same stuff.

If it helps, I promise not to besmirch the content by sampling it myself- it would, after all, be wasted on my SuperSergio palate.

Are there any whiskeyphiles here that might make a suggestion?

To their great credit, BevMo in MV freely admitted to being clueless about this.

Thank you in advance.

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  1. Vhttp://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/suntory...

    It's mail order (shrug), couldn't find a local outlet in San Diego.

    NSS! I gave up too soon. You can buy it from a Quality Liquours shop in San Diego:


    1. This is not intended to be a joke answer, really.

      Eureka Burger, your most recent addition to San Diego's proliferation of upscale burger joints (at the revamped UTC mall, roughly between the new Arclight Cinema and Macy's in the old Miami Grill footprint), claims to have an extensive whiskey and craft beer list. They'd have a hard time standing out on the latter in San Diego at large, though that part of town is desperately void of places with nice beer lists. You should give them a call and see if they carry Hibiki, though - it is worth a shot.

      2 Replies
      1. re: RB Hound

        Eureka does not carry Japanese Whiskey, only American.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          And a little research indicates that my suggestion is akin to suggesting that somebody find a $100 bottle of wine at an Olive Garden.

      2. Your best bet (not to add anymore to your, ahem, inferiority complex) is to try a couple of shops up in LA.

        KL Wines (in Hollywood) and Wally's (in Westwood) both carry a wide selection of foreign whiskeys, incl. Japanese imports by Suntory.

        If they do not have Hibiki in stock, they can most likely order it for you.


        Good luck.

          1. re: Beach Chick

            'hard to find Hibiki and just as good is Yamazaki and that should be available at BevMo stores or the Wine Bank in downtown San Diego'

          2. First my disclaimer, I am not a professional whiskey sniffer, swisher or sipper. I did notice, during the holidays, that Costco at Morena had a good selection of interesting hard liquors including whifskey and I believe they are still on display. It may be worth a drive by or call.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cstr

              Coincidentally enough, I was checking these out when there on Saturday. I'm pretty sure that Costco's selection of spirits is mostly limited to those NAFTA produced.

            2. funny because BevMo regularly carries Hibiki.

              The closest thing to Hibiki are the Yamazaki's- the 18 is stellar (though about 130 bucks if you can find it) and the 12 is just ok.

              Other than that the Suntory whiskeys are difficult to find in CA.

              An alternate, semi-odd whiskey is the Compass Box Hedonism- similar body though different profiles to be sure.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                Fakey should call around a few other Bevmos. I've found the Carmel Mtn Ranch, Mira Mesa, and Encinitas Bevmos to be generally superior to their brethren. On the other hand, I just ran a web search, and even though I'm hitting cached copies of the Hibiki being listed at Bevmo, nothing current comes up.

              2. Don't forget to try Holiday Liquors in Escondido. They've got one of the better selections of alcohol in the county...including some of the more obscure offerings

                1 Reply
                1. I am not a whiskeyphile either but the better half has tried some unique (and japanese) whiskey samples at Whisk N Ladle in La Jolla. Might see if the LI location carry them as well, maybe they can point you in the right direction.

                  1. I don't know a whole lot about Japanese whiskey so I can't recommend a specific one, but my girlfriend recently bought me a very nice bottle of Jefferson's Presidential Select (18 year) bourbon as a gift. She doesn't know a whole lot about bourbon, but she went to Bristol Farms in LJ and said the liquor buyer there was very helpful and knowledgeable. He might be able to point you in the right direction.

                    Also, to second chetatkinsdiet's suggestion, I've tried the Yamazaki before and it was very good.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mayache

                      The Yamazaki sounds pretty good- it's motorcyclelish, so...

                      1. re: mayache

                        Mayache, I haven't had Jefferson's Presidential Select, but I usually have a bottle of Jefferson's Private Reserve on hand and like it alot.

                      2. For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.

                        1. IIRC, the Japanese whiskys are modeled on Scotch whisky. Hibiki is a blended whisky, albeit a very high end one. From what I have read on the subject, mainly because I was very curious to try Suntory whisky to see how it compared to Scotch, Suntory actually imports the peat smoked malt from Scotland to produce their whisky. Given that, apart from it being produced by Japanese people I'm not entirely clear what else makes it so special.

                          If you simply want to get him something of comparable quality to the Hibiki, you'd want to look for a high-end blended whisky as opposed to a single malt. Holiday Wine Cellar is a good suggestion, but closer to home is the Wine Bank and they actually have a pretty good-sized collection of Scotches.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: Josh

                            Yeah, I'm not totally sure what's right here. I don't drink the stuff, so it's completely foreign- it's very expensive heartburn in liquid form for me.

                            But my friend LOVES this stuff, and is usually quite picky. I suppose I'm looking for something similar in flavor profile, but expands the palate- something like, "well, if you like Super Sergios, you might also like Aqui es Texcoco".

                            I wouldn't try to say "if you like Super Sergios, you'll love the cafeteria food at Addison". Too big a jump to very different genre.

                            1. re: Fake Name

                              So the hibiki is quite light in body for a scotch with flavors of toffee, carmel, honey and elderflower (this is what I get from it). I've actually never had even a blend quite this light before.

                              If I was looking for a gift for someone who liked this I'd look in a few spots:

                              1) Yamazaki 18 year (quite expensive at around 130 a bottle if you can find it)

                              2) Compass Box Hedonism (still expensive at about 100 a bottle but a beautifully light blend)

                              3) Compass Box Eluthyria (sp?) (more like 70 a bottle)

                              If you're looking to spend less let me know I can find a few other whiskeys for you that I think might hit that flavor profile. I'm trying to stay away from bourbons as I think that might be too much for their taste profile.

                              1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                                Sounds like the Compass Box is the right call.

                                BevMo? Or online?

                                1. re: Fake Name

                                  Bevmo has some of it, Holiday wine certainly has it. Better bets at the bigger Bevmo stores (Encinitas usually has it)

                                  1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                                    Encinitas- that's up near OC/LA, right?

                                    North of 8?

                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                      Go to Super Cocina and go north and west. :)

                              2. re: Fake Name

                                FWIW, if a person is persnickety about their Whiskey and they have fallen for the Hibiki, getting something "similar" in profile just won't cut it.

                                It's like if you are a devout fan of Super Sergio's carne asada burrito and someone were to bring you one from La Posta, you'd be sort of nonplussed, if not entirely disappointed, no?

                                I'm not a single malt snob, but I really like the Talisker 18 and if someone were to gift to me a Highlander 18 as a close proxy of the Talisker, I would be sort of, well, unmoved.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  It depends on how catholic your tastes are. I'm not partisan at all: I like Islay, Highland, Speyside. I also like rye and bourbon. It's all a matter of mood.

                                  Personally, if I was shopping for someone who loved whisky, I'd veer into left field and get them a bottle of Anchor's Old Potrero. It's high quality, unusual stuff totally unlike anything else out there.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    Costco has a bottle of single malt 40 year old scotch from McCallan for $2399.00

                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                    Well, actually..

                                    If someone, on the basis of my admiration for Chef Sergio's tasting menu, were to hook me up with La Posta's adobada tacos, I'd be quite pleased. Only problem, and the downfall of the hypothetical, is if I had to eat the adobada tacos in my car.

                                    But I take your point.

                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                      Part of it may depend on how you present the gift.

                                      You could say something along the lines of, "I know how much you like Hibiki, and so I got you X because while it is similar in profile to Hibiki, it is also uniquely different, and I hope that it will be a nice contrast and perhaps add some dimension to your Japanese Whiskey repertoire."

                                      Of course, the danger is that your friend has tried X and did not like it, sort of like "I know how much you love SG CAB, so I thought I'd get you a La Porta CAB in the hopes of expanding your horizon" when all along you've been to La Porta and just preferred the adobada tacos!

                                2. Here's a link to Chow's very own Japanese Whisky Primer

                                  1. <Are there any whiskeyphiles here that might make a suggestion?>

                                    Yes. My suggestion is to get your friend what he/she loves. Once you find out what someone drinks, unless you're confident that they're open to trying new whiskey, then I say stay with it. Your friend will know you've respected his/her personal taste.

                                    1. I also suggest you call KnB Cellars off of College and the 8. We recently went in and were pleasantly surprised at how many options they had in every liquor category, And my husband is a HUGE Scotch/Whiskey aficionado!

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: sdpanda80

                                        Happened to be at KnB this afternoon. They didn't have Hibiki.

                                        They did, however, have the Bitterman's Chocolate Mole bitters I didn't expect to find :-)

                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                          Yeah- I called them about the Yamazaki. No go.

                                          Funny thread hijack. I was 19 and needed beer for a desert trip. I went I to that liquor store with my empty ice chest, pulled several six packs and dumped them in. I then got a few bags of ice, tore them open and dumped them in as well, thus filling the entire cooler. THEN I went to the cashier. I figured at that point they'd be motivated to avoid repacking everything and skip the ID check.

                                          Worked perfectly. Clerk took one look at pimply-faced me, another at the ice/beer and rang it up.

                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                              Well you probably also had a fake ID

                                              1. re: littlestevie

                                                Nope. Wits alone.

                                                Or in my case, half-wits alone.

                                        2. Fake Name -- I think your instincts are noble and you should avoid calling yourself an idiot in comparison to so-called elite chowhounds. Knowing what you like and understanding that is a key element in being any kind of a chowhound. I enjoy your posts -- be kinder to yourself, please!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                            Oh, not to worry- I'm a fan of irony, and provide a laugh for those on the board who know me personally and with whom I've shared meals.

                                            I enjoy bathing in the the snarky assumptions of others.

                                            Suffice to say I don't always eat at Super Sergio's and heat frozen pizza or boil packaged ramen at home.

                                            You are kind to care, thank you.

                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                              ' I enjoy bathing in the snarky assumptions of others'

                                              Ha ha ha

                                              1. re: Fake Name

                                                We could all benefit from a healthy dose of self-effacing comments.

                                                Make a decision on where you will purchase the whiskey? Think this experience will lead to a 2nd occupation in Mixology?


                                                1. re: globocity

                                                  Been trying to sources some Yamazaki locally, but the barrel (hah!) is dry around here.

                                                  Might give a gift certificate to Addison instead, so he can go through the line of steam tables they have there for those banquets.

                                            2. Dame it all to hell and get him a bottle of Laphoraig. He'll either love it or hate it. Sometimes you have to roll the hard six.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: roguefrog

                                                Laphroaig isn't the route I'd go here. The Japanese whiskys are more akin to Glenmorangie, and aren't huge peat bombs.

                                                Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or, aged in Sauternes casks, might actually be a good choice.

                                                1. re: Josh

                                                  I'll take Langavulin for some serious peat.

                                                  1. re: cstr

                                                    Well, MrsName dropped by BevMo (Pt Loma, I think) and they sold her a bottle of Oban.


                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                        Oban is an excellent sipping whiskey and not peaty at all. In fact, it's fruity and smooth. If you needed a mild intro to the whiskey ilk, Oban would be a good start.

                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                          OK, Oban is a pretty good choice given the Japanese whisky obsession situation. It even looks like a Japanese word. Although the pronunciation is totally different. (O-ben vs O-bahn)

                                                      2. re: Josh

                                                        I had a glass of Nectar d'Or a few months ago and it was like drinking honey. soooooooo divine.

                                                      1. re: Rodzilla

                                                        Rodzilla, thanks for the link. That was an interesting read, but following some of the links was even more interesting.