Japanese whisky maker Kumesen Shuzo has just released its latest creation. Called Ukiyo, the whisky’s name means “floating world,” the same ethereal geographic descriptor as in ukiyo-e, the “pictures of the floating world” woodblock prints that today serve as a window into life in Japan during the pre-photograph era.
It’s not just Ukiyo’s name that has a connection to Japanese art, however, but its packaging too, as the whisky’s label and box feature artwork from Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki and anime director Hayao Miyazaki.
tarting with Suzuki’s contribution, the veteran producer has become something of a calligraphy buff in recent years, and those are his brushstrokes serving as the design for the written-in-kanji-charcters Ukiyo (浮世) on the whisky’s packaging.
▼ Suzuki, showing off the design
In the bottom left of the golden sphere, you’ll notice an illustration in red. It’s a little hard to make out in Kumesen Shuzo’s promotional images, but this is actually none other than Ghibli mascot Totoro, drawn by Miyazaki himself.
If you’re wondering why this Totoro looks extra stylized, it’s because it’s also an inei, a seal with the artist’s name that’s stamped onto their work, similar to a signature. Miyazaki designed the inei for Suzuki some time back, and it also showed up, in more of a rusty brown color, when Suzuki’s calligraphy graced the labels of a line of Japanese craft beer.
▼ Suzuki’s inei, as seen on bottles of Echigo Beer, with the kanji for his name written across Totoro’s tummy
Ukiyo is a rice whisky with a 50-percent alcohol content, distilled by Kumesen Shuzo in Okinawa and aged in American white oak casks. The company describes the flavor as smoky and spicy with a hint of banana, giving way to notes of spearmint, cinnamon, and bitter chocolate for a leisurely finish that’s both sweet and tart with a tropical impression. They recommend drinking it straight or cut with soda water, and pairing with salty or sweet accompaniments such as beef jerky, smoked salmon, chocolates, or vanilla ice cream.
Ukiyo is on sale now at Kumesen Shuzo’s Okinawa Blue physical shops in Okinawa and through its online store here. It’s priced at 7,800 yen for a 700-mililiter bottle, so it isn’t the cheapest Japanese whisky around, but it’s still a relatively affordable luxury.
Source: PR Times
Insert images: Kumesen Shuzo, PR Times, @Press
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