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“In Praise of Time” Celebrating a Century of Japanese Whisky

In reverence of nature and the craft of whisky, Portland Japanese Garden and Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library are partnering on a very special event. This experience of world-class gastronomic immersion will gather luminaries from the world of whisky – including House of Suntory’s Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo – to Portland.

This once-in-a-lifetime gathering of some of the world’s most critically-acclaimed spirits & culinary experts features:

Shinji Fukuyo (Japan) – Chief Blender, Suntory Whisky
Dave Broom (UK) – Spirits Writer & Critique
Marybeth Boller (US) – Executive Chef & Culinary Experience Curator
Jim Meehan (US) – James Beard Award-winning mixologist

The full lineup of whiskies for the tasting with Fukuyo has been unveiled. Alongside the renowned “Yamazaki 12 Years,” “Yamazaki 18 Years,” “Hakushu 12 Years,” and “Hakushu 18 Years,” attendees will also have the pleasure of sampling two 100th anniversary commemorative limited-edition whiskies: “Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Years” and “Hakushu 18 Years Peated Malt.”

Evening Itinerary

Location: Portland Japanese Garden at 611 SW Kingston Ave. Portland, OR 97205
5:00 PM | Doors open
5:30-6:00 PM | Custom tour of Portland Japanese Garden
6:15-7:15 PM | Exclusive tasting program by Shinji Fukuyo, Chief Blender, Suntory Whisky
7:30 PM | Special culinary experience produced by chef Marybeth Boller, and curated mixology by Jim Meehan, esteemed writer and James Beard Award-winning mixologist.
8:30-9:15 PM | Fireside chat with Shinji Fukuyo and Dave Broom
9:30 PM | Evening concludes


Shinji Fukuyo

Shinji Fukuyo serves as an Executive Officer and Chief Blender of Suntory Whisky, the first and the largest Japanese whisky company. He was appointed as the fifth Chief Blender of Suntory whisky in 2009 and as Executive Officer in 2014. In his position as Chief Blender, he is responsible for maintaining the liquid quality of all Suntory whisky brands. In 2018, he was also appointed as Whisky Quality Advisor of Beam Suntory Inc., which has a portfolio including Bourbon, Scotch, Canadian, Irish and Japanese whisk(e)y brands. Shinji’s knowledge covers malt whisky production process, whisky inventory management and maintaining whisky quality by blending. Products he has blended, such as Yamazaki Sherry Cask, Hibiki Japanese Harmony, Hakushu Distillers Reserve, have received numerous awards in international competitions. He regularly noses hundreds of samples daily to secure the taste consistency of various whisky brands and to create new products.


Marybeth Boller

As the youngest of seven, Marybeth Boller grew up cherishing family dinners where meals were opportunities to spend enjoyable time together. New York, with its dynamic and trend-setting vibe, could not have been a better setting to develop a love for good, diverse food. After earning degrees from both Providence College and the International Culinary Center, Marybeth went on to hone her craft in some of the world’s most renowned establishments, mentored by celebrated chefs Jean Georges Vongerichten in New York and Michel Roux in London. Later, as Executive Chef at the legendary dining destination BG at Bergdorf Goodman, Marybeth oversaw the operations of three restaurants and developed recipes for the carefully curated BG Cookbook. In 2014, Marybeth left New York to accept the offer to serve as Executive Chef of the US Embassy Residence in Japan under Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. At the Embassy, Marybeth planned and designed both large events and intimate gatherings that reflected the multifaceted relationship between the United States and Japan. With the support and encouragement of Ambassador Kennedy, Marybeth fostered “food diplomacy” through relationships with local vendors and food sources, and her contacts with US-affiliated restaurants and vendors. Marybeth’s talent, knowledge, and experience, are the result of more than 25 years in the culinary industry in which she has been the executive chef of several restaurants, owned and operated an exclusive catering company, and served as culinary consultant to prominent companies worldwide.


Dave Broom

Dave Broom, Glasgow-born, is a journeyman writer about spirits, a job he’s been doing for the past 33 years. In his time, he’s been contributing editor at Whisky Magazine, Whisky Magazine Japan, Whisky Advocate, and He’s written 14 books, including The Way of Whisky: A Journey into Japanese Whisky, and The World Atlas of Whisky. His newest, A Sense of Place, examining the role of community, culture, location and sustainability in Scotch appeared this autumn. It was named as one of the Top 6 drinks books of 2022 by the New York Times, and has been shortlisted for the André Simon Award. He’s written and presented two films, Cuba In A Bottle, and the award-winning, The Amber Light. The Irish Times described him as, ‘an agreeable man with a pepper-and-salt beard.’


Jim Meehan

Jim Meehan’s hospitality career spans over twenty-five years from Madison, Wisconsin to New York City to Portland, Oregon, where he works with clients on behalf of Mixography Inc. and develops recipes for American Express’s Centurion airport lounges. After editing multiple editions of Food & Wine Cocktails and Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide; Jim authored The PDT Cocktail Book and Meehan’s Bartender Manual, and his latest book, The Bartender’s Pantry, will be published by Ten Speed Press in May of 2024.   

Photo by Jordan Hughes

More About Whisky as Cultural Heritage:

Good whisky is made at the intersection of botanical science and art with “time” as its magical ingredient, where the natural order of things and the characteristics of landscape shape and influence the taste of the end results. Like gardens, whisky distilleries are informed and defined by the surrounding natural resources as much as they are by the craftsmen who nurture their creation. When considering the location for a distillery, these artisans pay great attention to the surrounding water, available timber, terroir, moisture, temperature, and climate, which together define the terroir of a great whisky.

Yamazaki 55, pictured to the left, is an incredibly rare whisky distilled in the ’60s under famed Japanese distiller Shinjiro Torii. Only 100 bottles of Yamazaki 55 are in existence worldwide.

Japanese Whisky: 100 Years in the Making

It was in 1923 when Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory, began construction on the Yamazaki Distillery, Japan’s first malt whisky distillery, on the outskirts of Kyoto. For 100 years, Suntory Whisky, the founding house of Japanese whisky, has dedicated itself to the productions of high quality malt, grain and blended whiskies, but this did not translate to immediate attention on the world stage. Japan first emerged as an international player in the world of whisky, alongside Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the United States, when Suntory’s single malt whisky “The Yamazaki 12 Years Old” won the Gold Award in the 2003 International Spirits Challenge – the first ever Japanese whisky to achieve this honor. Suntory Whisky gained further prominence when Jim Murray’s influential Whisky Bible named Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 its Whisky of the Year. This released a wave of interest in whiskies from Japan – one which continues to grow.

Photo by James Florio.
Portland Japanese Garden’s Cultural Village. Photo by James Florio.

This is the standalone ticket option of the Two Day Whisky Celebration with Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library on July 21st and 22nd.