Yamazaki needs no introductions. Japan’s first single malt distillery has been active since 1923. The Japanese market is fascinating as Japanese distillers don’t share stocks, thus each one needs to create all the different whiskys they need for blending.
Consequently, the stillhouse at Yamazaki has short onion stills capable of making beefy and sulfury new make alongside tall stills with reflux bulges to create gentle floral whisky.
Going from complete obscurity outside Japan to being highly desired and leaders of inflationary trends in just one decade, Japanese whisky is now a major player on the world stage. A few Japanese distilleries even achieved the highly coveted, albeit posthumous, legendary status of Port Ellen and Brora and command breathtaking prices at auction.
I reviewed some of those whiskys following the Whisky Show in London, but I now want to review some of the standard editions of Yamazaki, starting with the 12. We’ll then review the Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve and the Yamazaki 18.
This expression was made from whiskys matured in American, European and Japanese oak.
Appearance: Amber, thin and relatively quick legs.
Nose: Floral honey, strong cinnamon, perfume, flower bouquets, malt, open fields. The floral notes are very present, but not the Scottish Lowlands type, these have more vanilla. It has an overall profile I’d describe as orange-floral.
Palate: Sweet and peppery, light lemon and very smooth mouthfeel.
Linger: Pepper on the tongue and an overall sweetness in a medium finish.
The Yamazaki 12 was the first Japanese single malt I ever had, and I remember the distinct “wow factor” at the quality and taste. My notes are more recent, though, as I have a bottle of it at home.
This is a great daily dram whisky, but considering the recent Japanese whisky craze and the hyperinflation running rampant in the world of whisky, it’s going to get more and more expensive and is starting to pull away from its 7th grade class mates.