Suntory World Whisky Ao


Classification: Blended Whiskey

Company: Beam Suntory

Distillery: Ardmore Distillery, Glen Garioch Distillery, Cooley Distillery, Alberta Distillery, Jim Beam Clermont Distillery, Yamazaki Distillery, and Hakushu Distillery

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 86

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed blend of Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, American whiskey, and Japanese whisky

Color: Straw

MSRP: $55 (2023)

Official Website

Suntory World Whisky Ao has been available in the Japanese and Global Travel Retail markets in the past, however, it was announced that in 2023 it would also arrive in the markets of Canada, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, and the United States. According to the company’s press release, “blended using whisky from Suntory Group’s own distilleries in five of the world’s most renowned whisky-regions: Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Japan and the US, Suntory World Whisky Ao, meaning blue, is named after the oceans that connect these whiskies of the world together. The bottle is five-sided in honor of the five major whisky-making regions. The calligraphic lettering was written by Japanese calligrapher Tansetsu Ogino with an intent to represent the whiskies’ global origins and Japanese craftsmanship.”

The whiskey is composed of distillate from seven Beam Suntory distilleries from over five countries including Ardmore and Glen Garioch from Scotland, Cooley from Ireland, Alberta Distillers from Canada, Jim Beam from the United States, and Yamazaki and Hakushu from Japan. That company states that “fifth-generation Suntory Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo, carefully selected the liquids used based on Suntory’s globally recognized Monozukuri craftsmanship – a relentless pursuit of perfection, meticulous attention to detail and commitment to quality.”


The nose opens more akin to the whiskey found in Japan, Ireland, and Scotland versus those in the blend from the U.S. and Canada. Notes of light fresh cut wood and hints of smoke are immediately noticeable and delivered with a subtle gentleness. Inhaling deeper brings about lighter scents vanilla wafer and dried tropical fruit mix. It’s a pleasant way to open up the sip with all of the scents mingling nicely together, however, their lightness seems to be holding them back from their true potential.


The palate starts off similar to the nose, however weaves in slightly more of the American and Canadian whiskey influence. Sweeter flavors of light caramel and buttered toffee intermix with light wet oak and ground nutmeg. Exploring further reveals notes of light creamy vanilla and touches of smoke along with the slightest hint of white peppercorn spice. The whiskey carries with it a thin mouthfeel which can most likely be attributed to the proof chosen for the blend. Overall it’s a fine combination of flavors with creaminess being the star, but their overall lightness leaves something to be desired.


Sweetness carries over from the palate in the form of gentle vanilla cream. Light buttery oak and a slight spice join in with the faintest hint of smoke. The whiskey once again leans more towards its Japanese, Irish, and Scottish roots, providing for a grounded yet slightly sweet finish. It’s pleasant without any major faults, albeit an incredibly simple way to end the sip.


Blended whiskey isn’t a new concept, especially to American whiskey drinkers. You’ll sometimes see a blend of Canadian and American whiskey being used in bottles, such as Discovery Series #8 by Bardstown Bourbon Company. Usually, it stops there. Suntory World Whisky Ao however, takes this multi-country blending concept and turns it up to 11 by including seven distilleries, from five countries, and three continents representing the House of Suntory’s first-ever world blended whiskey.

It both makes sense and is also surprising that it took Beam Suntory this long to capitalize on the fact that it plays in every major whiskey producing market globally. While blending scotch, Irish, and Japanese whiskey would have made sense due to the more common flavor profiles that you find among the three, the introduction of North American whiskey is fascinating. Both from a flavor profile perspective, but also from a coordination perspective. While Beam Suntory doesn’t state the percentages of the blend, they do still have to coordinate all of the whiskeys from the seven different distilleries in order for them to be blended. No matter if this is piecemeal or all at once, the fact of the matter is, you still have to move all of this liquid across several oceans and continents to make this happen.

While the creation of this whiskey is incredibly unique, the end flavor profile is less so. Again without the disclosure of the blend percentages from each distillery, it’s hard to definitively say if one whiskey was used more so than the others. My guess would be that the blend is lighter on American and Canadian whiskey components compared to the others used. The resulting sip will be surprising for many American whiskey drinkers, especially those accustomed to bourbon or rye. The sip itself contains less typical oak and spice notes that you might find in an American or even Canadian whiskey, instead focusing on notes you’d find in a Japanese or Irish whiskey with a thread of smoke to make the Scottish component noticeable. This isn’t bad per se, but the sip itself is on the softer side and will leave many who are only used to drinking bolder American whiskeys scratching their head at what they’re tasting. However, for those who like to explore various categories of whiskey, they’ll be rewarded with a layered sip that forces them to pull out the different whiskey components from each region.


Consumers generally complain about sourced whiskey. What’s interesting is that this has been internally gathered from the distilleries underneath one parent company. This is not the same as a company buying whiskey from a distillery and then bottling it, but in many ways it's logistically similar to what American whiskey sourcing looks like today with more and more blending taking place. You’d think that shipping around whiskey from five different countries and seven different distilleries would add a large amount of overhead, however, Suntory World Whisky Ao carries with it a surprisingly accessible MSRP of only $55.

Production and logistic costs aside, the whiskey inside of the bottle is a slight conundrum. If you’re a fan of any particular style of the blends used in this whiskey, you’re probably better off buying a bottle from that region to scratch your whiskey itch. If you like trying different styles or concepts of whiskey, Suntory World Whisky Ao is a fun concept to try with a very reasonable price tag. This whiskey, especially if you’re an American whiskey drinker, won’t blow you away, but what it will provide is a fun talking point when you pour it for family and friends. That’s hard sometimes to find nowadays in the American whiskey space without spending significantly more than $55. Taking all of the above into consideration, the asking price for this blend isn’t that bad after all.


Suntory World Whisky Ao sounds like it's the “everything but the kitchen sink” of whiskey, however, the resulting sip will please those looking to step outside their normal whiskey comfort zone.

Suntory World Whisky Ao is a really interesting whiskey, especially when you sum up its backstory as seven distilleries, five countries, three continents, one whiskey. Whiskey is often associated with old-timey traditions and thoughts, however, this one, in particular, is a great example of corporate synergy. Beam Suntory tapped into its vast global portfolio of distilleries to truly create this product, which is something that hasn’t been done before. Whether it kicks off a trend of other corporations such as Sazerac, Campari Group, and Diageo doing the same is yet to be seen, but these types of thoughtful blends may end up creating a new category of whiskey unto itself.

When going into this whiskey I realized that many different whiskey lenses could be worn while reviewing it. Since we’re an American whiskey review website, I viewed it predominantly from that angle. I’m sure others who are primarily Japanese or Scotch drinkers will have a wholly different take on this bottle, however if you’re reading this, you’re most likely an American whiskey fan and will view it in a similar light as I did.

Compared to a typical American whiskey, Suntory World Whisky Ao falls well short of the best of them and competes more along the lines with an average to above average American whiskey. It lacks bold spice and oak notes that you may be used to and is a lighter style of whiskey overall. However, it’s ultimately unfair to compare it only to American whiskey. When looking at its entire body of work, it’s actually a really interesting whiskey, both in backstory and the fact that it’s priced where it is.

Suntory World Whisky Ao is a whiskey that will appeal more to those used to Japanese, Irish, or even subtler Scotch whiskeys versus American whiskeys, and that’s okay. This is a whiskey that may be a great introduction to those American whiskey drinkers who are interested in learning more about other styles of whiskey from around the world. With a reasonable price, this is a fun one to pour for friends and start a conversation about other types of whiskey. It’s most certainly not similar to a classic American whiskey, and that’s A-okay too in this case.

The sample used for this review was provided to us at no cost courtesy its respective company. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.
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Written By: Jordan Moskal

March 24, 2023
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