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现在轮到日本威士忌了

Japanese Whiskeys, Translated From the Scottish
现在轮到日本威士忌了

ONE of the most expensive cocktails in New York can be found at Ryu, the Japanese-inspired restaurant that opened last spring in the meatpacking district. It’s a Sazerac variation called Shogun’s Grip and it’s ticketed like a four-star entree: $35. Adam Schuman, then the beverage director, had a good excuse for the stiff tariff. Its base is 18-year-old Yamazaki, the Japanese single malt made by Suntory that can cost $140 a bottle.

春天在肉库区(meatpacking district)新开张的日本餐馆“Ryu”里有种鸡尾酒可以跻身全纽约最昂贵的鸡尾酒之列。它由萨泽拉克鸡尾酒(Sazerac)演变而来,名叫“将军的权柄”(Shogun’s Grip),价位定在35美元,完全是高级主菜的价格。餐厅当时的饮品总监亚当·舍曼(Adam Schuman)把价格定这么高是非常有理由的。因为它的基酒是山崎(Yamazaki)18年威士忌,这种麦芽威士忌酒由日本三得利公司(Suntory)出品,一瓶就要140美元。

The Shogun’s Grip’s price means Ryu doesn’t sell more than one or two a night. But it doesn’t keep bottles of the Yamazaki from disappearing off liquor-store shelves. Quite the contrary.

“将军的权柄”定价那么高,因此Ryu一晚上至多只能卖出一两杯。但是山崎威士忌的酒瓶还是接连不断地从酒品专卖店的货架上消失。和“将军的权柄”形成鲜明对比。
 

日本威士忌在美国的销量大大增长,带动价格也随之上涨。

After decades as an also-ran in the American whiskey market, Japanese whiskey is on the ascent. Last year, Suntory’s sales in the United States rose 44 percent, according to the company, which found it difficult to keep up with demand. So it increased prices of the Yamazaki 12- and 18-year-olds by 10 percent last year and this year. “We like the consumer to recognize Japanese whiskey as very high end,” said Yoshihiro Morita, Suntory’s executive manager for American sales and marketing.

几十年来,日本威士忌酒在美国市场一直没能取得成功,不过近年来却有上升势头。去年,三得利公司在美国的销售额增长了44%,公司声称出现了供不应求的局面。于是去年和今年,山崎12年和18年威士忌的价格也增长了10%。“我们希望消费者把日本威士忌当作高端酒品,”三得利公司美国营销部门主管Yoshihiro Morita说。

Japanese whiskey has been produced commercially since the 1920s, when the Yamazaki distillery was built. Compared with Scotch, Irish whiskey and bourbon, it is still the new kid on the block.

山崎酿酒厂于20世纪20年代落成,标志着日本威士忌开始了商业化生产。与苏格兰威士忌、爱尔兰威士忌和波旁威士忌相比,日本威士忌在这个领域里只能算作小字辈。

But now that those other categories have been thoroughly rediscovered by Americans over the last 30 years, it’s Japan’s turn. The embrace has been nudged along by the fact that you can finally buy Japanese whiskey here.

最近30年来,其他品牌的威士忌都已被美国人重新开发了一个遍,现在轮到日本威士忌了。如今在美国终于可以买到日本威士忌酒,这个事实本身也推动了美国人接受日本威士忌。

Suntory quietly introduced the Yamazaki 12-year-old in 1990, and that was the only option until 2005, when the 18-year-old arrived. By 2010, the United States had its first Japanese blended whiskey, Suntory’s Hibiki. And last year, the Hakushu 12-year-old made its debut. The company’s domination of the American market will be challenged later this year when its archrival, Nikka, sends in the Single Malt Yoichi 15-year-old and Taketsuru Pure Malt 12-year-old.

1990年,三得利公司不声不响地推出了山崎12年威士忌,长期以来,它都是山崎威士忌品牌唯一的一个品种,直到2005年,公司又推出了山崎18年威士忌。2010年,美国市场上有了第一款日本调和威士忌——三得利的“响”(Hibiki)。去年,白州(Hakushu,三得利旗下的另一大酿酒厂——译注)12年威士忌也在美国初次登场亮相。今年下半年,三得利公司在美国市场上的统治地位受到它的主要竞争对手日果(Nikka)公司的挑战,该公司在美国推出了自己的余市单一麦芽(Single Malt Yoichi)15年威士忌和竹鹤纯麦(Taketsuru Pure Malt)12年威士忌。

“Up until two years ago, if one in 20 customers had tasted Japanese whiskey, we were lucky,” said Flavien Desoblin, owner of Brandy Library, the TriBeCa spirits emporium. “Now, out of 20, a good 5 know that it exists and they’ve had it. That’s quite a lot for the land of bourbon.”

“两年前,假如20个消费者里有一个曾经品尝过日本威士忌,那就算走运的了,”坐落在翠贝卡(TriBeCa)的烈性酒大卖场 “白兰地图书馆”(Brandy Library)的老板弗拉文·德索布林(Flavien Desoblin)说:“现在,每20个消费者里起码有5个知道日本也出产威士忌,而且还买过。要知道美国是波旁威士忌的天下,这样的数字已经相当惊人了。”

Sales have grown enough that Suntory has seen fit to draft two brand ambassadors in the United States, first the New York mixologist Gardner Dunn and then the San Francisco bartender Neyah White. At the time of his hiring two years ago, Mr. White was no great devotee of Japanese whiskey. “I respected it, but I wasn’t swinging that flag around too heavily,” he said. “I was a little dismissive of it, to be honest. The world of whiskey was so big.”

三得利威士忌在美国的销售额有了显著增长,于是公司在美国任命了两位品牌形象大使,先是纽约调酒师加德纳·丹恩(Gardner Dunn),后来又任命了旧金山的酒保尼亚·怀特(Neyah White)。怀特先生两年前上任时并不是日本威士忌的狂热爱好者。“我尊敬它,但我可不愿意过分为它摇旗呐喊,”他说:“老实说,我对它还有点看不起。威士忌酒的世界实在太大了。”

For much of the 20th century, Japanese distillers were perceived as little more than Scotch makers manqué. Masataka Taketsuru, Suntory’s first master distiller and Nikka’s founder, studied his art in Scotland and chose distillery sites that resembled its terrain and climate. Producers even spelled whiskey the Scottish way, without the “e.” While there’s no denying that Japanese whiskeys taste more like Scotch than, say, bourbon, connoisseurs now focus more on what sets them apart.

20世纪的大部分时间里,日本酒厂都只是被当作失败的苏格兰威士忌酒生产者。当年三得利的第一位酿酒大师与日果公司的创始人竹鹤政孝(Masataka Taketsuru) 在苏格兰学会了酿酒技艺,又在日本按照苏格兰的地貌和天气找到了适宜的地点,建立起酿酒厂。这些生产者们甚至模仿苏格兰人对威士忌的发音,不把“whiskey”里的那个“e”拼写出来。不能否认,日本威士忌品尝起来不太像波旁威士忌之类,确实更像苏格兰威士忌,不过品酒家们现在更加注意欣赏日本威士忌的与众不同之处。

“The founder of Suntory wanted to create an authentic Japanese whiskey that appealed to the delicate palate of the Japanese: subtle, refined, yet complex,” said Mike Miyamoto, who was Suntory’s master distiller for 10 years. “To make such a subtle taste, you need a lot of whiskeys to blend. If you have one or two colors, how good a picture are you going to make?”

“三得利公司的创始人希望创造出真正的日本威士忌:微妙、精纯而又回味无穷,能满足日本人细致优雅的品位,”在三得利工作了10年的酿酒大师Mike Miyamoto说,“为了创造出这样一种微妙的口味,就必须把许多种威士忌混合在一起。如果只有一两种色彩,又怎能画出美妙的图画呢?”

But finding all those blending elements is not easy. Unlike Scotch makers, who swap liquid back and forth to build their blended whiskeys, the Japanese distillers do not trade. Instead, they create countless in-house variations, using various yeasts, species of barley and peat levels.

但是要找到这些可以混合在一起的元素却绝非易事。苏格兰威士忌的生产者们可以互相交换自己酒厂的产品,用来制作调和威士忌,日本酿酒者们彼此之间却不互相交换,而是在酒厂内部使用各种酵母、不同品种的大麦和不同程度的泥煤烟熏味创制出无数种搭配。

They send the distillates through an array of stills of different shapes and sizes, then age them in a wide variety of barrels: virgin American oak, used American barrels from various suppliers, former sherry butts and wine barrels. Adding a distinctive native flavor to some of the whiskeys are barrels of expensive Japanese oak (called mizunara), which is thought to lend aromas of incense, and used plum-liqueur barrels.

他们让蒸馏液通过一系列形状大小各异的蒸馏器,然后放在一系列各种材质的木桶里进行陈化,包括初次使用的美国橡木桶、从各家供应商处购得的使用过的美国木桶、装过雪利酒的木桶和装过红酒的木桶。此外,为了给威士忌赋予一些本土色彩,有几种威士忌还使用装过青梅酒的桶,以及用昂贵的日本橡木(名叫mizunara)制成的桶,据说这种橡木可以为威士忌增添一丝焚香的香味。

With all those treatments on hand, distillers can let their passion for blending run wild. And there lies another difference. In Scotland, the single malts are the fair-haired tots, while the blends are the moneymaking, sometimes uninspired workhorses. The Japanese take their single malts seriously, too, but their blends never take a back seat.

有了这么多处理方式,酿酒者们可以尽情发挥他们对调和威士忌的热情。此外日本威士忌和苏格兰威士忌还有一个不同。在苏格兰,单一麦芽威士忌是酒厂格外宠爱的孩子,调和酒只是用来赚钱的,有时候会沦为毫无想象力的行货。而日本酒厂虽然也严肃对待单一麦芽威士忌,但是调和酒在他们手中却永远不会退居次席。

“The Japanese blend for completely different reasons,” Mr. White said. “Blending for them is not an efficiency thing. They make all these different whiskeys so they can pull them all in, in a way that will perform well in a Japanese drink, which is almost always a sort of highball.”

“日本人将酒进行调和完全是出于不同的原因,”怀特先生说,“对他们来说,调和酒并不是简单的事情。他们酿造出各种不同的威士忌,为的是把它们放在一起,制成一种出色的日本威士忌酒,通常都是高杯威士忌(highball)。”

Hibiki, which is composed of more than 20 different whiskeys, “shows best when you water it down,” Mr. White said. “It’s subtle and complex at the same time. It’s hard to define.”

“响”是由20种不同的威士忌混合而成,“兑水饮用风味最佳,”怀特说:“它口味微妙,回味无穷。用语言很难描述。”

Mr. Desoblin had no trouble defining the appeal. “Japanese whiskeys are very much the fine-wine-drinker’s take on whiskey,” he said. “There is more attention paid to the body and the texture in Japan than in many other countries. They are looking for that delicate, suave, mouth-coating feel, but never really aggressive. They seem to be powerful, but it’s all silky.”

德索布林先生却觉得描述日本威士忌的魅力没有那么困难:“日本威士忌是由上等美酒的品尝者精心酿制的威士忌。和其他国家相比,日本酿酒者更注重酒体和口味的质感。他们希望创造出一种微妙而柔润可口的味道,同时又不是那么咄咄逼人。表面可能酒劲很大,但其实入口都极其丝滑。”

Because of the high price points, aside from the Yamazaki 12-year-old, the Suntory products are not often used in cocktails. In fact, when Suntory’s chief blender, Shinji Fukuyo, first heard about Mr. Schuman’s Shogun’s Grip, he was not happy. He thought it a desecration of his masterpiece. So Mr. Dunn took him to Ryu to sample the offending drink. “After a moment,” Mr. Schuman said, “he gave a nod of approval.”

除了山崎12年威士忌之外,三得利的产品价格都非常高昂,所以不常被用在鸡尾酒当中。事实上,三得利的首席调酒师Shinji Fukuyo刚一听说舍曼先生的“将军的权柄”时非常不快,觉得这样是亵渎了自己的杰作。于是丹恩先生带他去“Ryu”,品尝了一下这种冒犯他的饮品。“没过一会儿他就点头表示认可,”舍曼先生说。
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