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Ao is Suntory's bid to enter the top shelf vodka marketplace.
Ao gets its name from the Japanese word for blue, a term also used to describe shades of green found in nature. Landscapes of rice paddies are poetically called ao for their mingling of blue and green.
The vodka is made from 100% Japanese rice and water sourced from the island of Kyushu. The rice mash is distilled in small pot stills and clarified through a bamboo filtration process.
Sipping Ao neat is a revelation. The scent is clean and crisp with the slightest hint of roasted rice and vanilla. The flavor maintains that clarity—slightly green, rice-y, and juicy with a subtle almost custardy sweetness. Finishing like a fresh breeze off the rice fields, it leaves just ghosts of the spirit to chase and watch disappear. The experience reminded me of tasting a delicious sake, carefully distilled.
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