Bincho opens bar dedicated to Japanese whisky

A bar dedicated to Japanese whiskies and whisky cocktails has been opened in London by the team behind traditional Japanese grill restaurants Bincho.

Owners David Miney and Ronnie Truss have created the bar in a dining area in the basement of Bincho Soho. It has been named Mizuwari, meaning “mixed with water”.

The bar has been developed with support from whisky producer Suntory and mixologist Zoran Peric, brand ambassador for Suntory whiskies Hibiki, Hakushu and Yamazaki, but it features many other brands such as Nikka, Ichiro, Hanyu and Karuizawa.

The look of the so-called “whisky den”, tucked away downstairs at the back of the Old Compton Street restaurant, is inspired by Japan’s traditional “Torys” bars which dominated Japan’s whisky scene in the 1950s.

David and Ronnie have brought in leading mixologist Niya Martin, who was most recently at Match in London, as head bartender.

The bar will be home to one of London’s largest collection of Japanese whiskies, including many rare expressions such as the Hakushu Heavily Peated and the Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel.

It offers a “bottle keep” service so customers can buy a whole bottle which will be kept in the bar with their name on it ready for whenever they visit. Bottles cost between £84, for the Yamazaki 10 Year Old, and £280 for the Hibiki 21 Year Old.

One of the bar’s specialities is the “Bincho Water” which is water purified using Bincho-tan, a high-grade charcoal made from Japanese holm oak and produced organically and hand-crafted using ancient traditions. It is the same type of charcoal used on the restaurant’s grill.

The drinks list is led by two classic serves: the Mizuwari, which is the Yamazaki 12 Year Old served with the Bincho Water, and a Highball, made with Hakushu 12 Year Old and soda.

The cocktails have been developed with Zoran and include many of the Suntory recipes that he created to tie in with Japan’s 24 seasons. They include the Taisho (the season of the “big heat”), which is a Highball made with Hakushu 12 Year Old and elderflower cordial plus a mint garnish.

The Shokan (meaning the start of the cold season) is a mix of Hibiki 12 Year Old, Cherry Marnier, vanilla pod and orange zest, while the Seimei mixes Hibiki 12 Year Old with maraschino liqueur, La Fée absinthe and lemon zest.

Japanese whisky sales in the UK are growing strongly, with Suntory reporting sales up 50 per cent.

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