Yamazaki distillery

Region: Japan

Location: Shimamoto, Osaka, Japan

Status: Operational (owned by Suntory)

General whisky characteristics: Rich, full-bodied, hints of nuts and dark fruits

Thanks to Wikipedia Commons for permission to copy and use the photograph




Yamazaki, 12y, 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Nose: Wonderful rich wood, raisins and prunes.

Palate: Slow to start, but then faint raspberries very briefly coming through the oak with smoke and honey. The raspberries soon fade, leaving the oak and smoke.

With water: Spicy oak

Overall Impression: I think I just about prefer this with the 3 drops of water, but it's a close call. I like this.





Yamazaki, Bourbon Barrel

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Yellow (21ct) gold

Nose: Initially lots of freshly sawn wood, then more woodiness but accompanied by vanilla pod or seed. Then a light creaminess, maybe custard before I'm reminded of an olde worlde sweet shoppe with lots of lightly perfumed aromas.

Palate: Very creamy mouth-feel also offering oak, light white pepperiness, vanilla and then red berries towards the finish.

Finish: Long fresh vanilla and fruity wood

Overall Impression: Marvellous, a truly excellent whisky showing the best attributes of bourbon casks



Yamazaki, Mizunara Japanese Oak Cask

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich gold

Nose: Slightly scorched butterscotch, almost gently toasted. Then very aromatic and floral wood notes, I love this nose!

Palate: Very soothing and warming as those butterscotch and floral woody notes all dance across the palate.

Finish: Long and warming

Overall Impression: A true 'Great', in fact one of the best whiskies of 2011 for me!



Yamazaki, Sherry Cask

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Mahogany bordering on ebony

Nose: Rich aged oak with slightly smoky nuances. Then dark fruits and almond with hints of coffee beans followed by the faintest hint of rubberiness.

Palate: Very soft and smooth in a rich kind of way with aged wood, rich dark fruits, nuts and lightly smoked wood.

Finish: Very long

Overall Impression: Another true 'Great' cask from Yamazaki. If you like sherried whisky this is a must!



Yamazaki, 'The cask of Yamazaki - Heavily peated' distilled 1998, bottled 2007, 62% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Nose: Wallop! Wow! Bloody 'ell and bloomin' 'eck, pick me back up off the floor!
That bloody hammer just smacked me in the face. This is smoke like I never experienced before in a whisky. I have posted elsewhere about the difference between peat and smoke. With smoke being wood-smoke. Well, this one is heavily peated, but the nose offers me lots of charred wood. Not so peaty on the nose, but very heavily burned wood. A third and fourth nosing are starting to get even more powerful with burnt rubber. Did a corvette or Bugatti suddenly scream through my study leaving four inches of burnt rubber across my desk, it certainly smells like it. This has more "in your face" power than any other whisky I have ever nosed. My goodness, if that was only the nose, just what is my mouth about to experience? A final nosing before my first taste confirms what I suspected, this gets even more powerful as it sits in the glass!

Palate:  Just a tiny sip ....... ohhhhhh bloody 'ell! (As a Tyke might exclaim) The nose was smoke, burnt wood, smoke, burnt rubber and a little more smoke. The so-called missing peat has just exploded in my mouth. The initial sip started very smoothly. There was smoke, but it was rich and smooth. The peace was soon shattered as this dram rapidly exploded into a volcano of peat which sent spasms of pleasure throughout my soul. If you don't like peat - forget this one. If you don't like powerful whisky - forget this one. If you don't like smoke - forget this one. If you DO like any of the above - just try to find this one and don't worry about the price. It WILL be worth it!

With 3 drops of water: Finally, I am adding a little water to try and tame that hammer. Three drops and has the nose been tamed? No chance. It's even stronger. As for the flavour - no way. This has opened up into an even more smoky finish which is almost inexplicable.

Three more drops of water: Need I tell you that this does not seem to have been tamed yet. OK, it is 60%, but there isn't much left in my glass and it smells like there's half a bottle in there. As for the palate, it is now a mere hammer instead of what we call a lump hammer in England. My goodness, I have just been totally blown away.

Overall impression: I think I have just been smacked in the mouth, had all my taste buds blown away and been left in state of total shock. If I gave you this blind I am sure you would argue between it being a rather strange Ardbeg and a very rare Lagavulin. No, this is Japanese and has more "in your face"-ness than anything I have ever tried. Buy one and try it for yourself. You can't go through life without ever having tried this!

On second thoughts:
It is not very often that I am lost for words. certainly when it comes to whisky. I may have limited experience and sometimes struggle for comparisons, but lost for words? Never. Until now!!! When I pick myself up from the floor of my study and recover enough to become coherent again, I shall start my search for a bottle of this stuff and if it is anything like affordable, I shall buy some as I need to experiment further with this one. So, until I report that I have found some and bought it, I can only report the following to you: It is bloody awful. DO NOT be tempted to buy any. If you see any for sale, tell me and I shall do you all a favour by removong it from the public domain without you having to spend your hard-earned pennies on it. Oh my goodness, stick with your beloved Islay monsters and do not be tempted to experiment with this. You will never be the same again!




Yamazaki, Sherry Cask 2011, 48% abv

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2012


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Finest dark chocolate.

Nose: Lightly toasted raisins, dates and figs then freshly polished antique oak table. Dark chocolate and coffee beans but also lightly fruity. Quite simply amazing.

Palate: Espresso coffee, dark chocolate, coconut, all gently toasted. Delightful.

Finish: Extremely long, almost never ending. Ultimate and delightful.

Overall Impression: A truly amazing whisky with rich flavours and aromas, perfect for after-dinner with coffee and chocolate, or by the fireside on a winter evening. Delightful? Ultimate? Amazing? How about "Great"? Yes indeed.




Yamazaki, Bourbon Barrel, bottled 2011, 48%abv

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2012


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich golden

Nose: Immediately offers a lightly scorched fruitiness. Scorched as in gently toasted bread over an open log fire and the fruitiness of heated raspberries and apricots with hints of vanilla suggesting "served on ice cream".

Soft, gentle, smooth and really quite warming with a fruitiness now suggesting apricot and peach with some butterscotch in the background. Comfort food.

Finish: Long and warming with suggestions of vanilla.

Overall Impression:
I love the gently scorched or lightly toasted fruitiness. It's another lighter whisky with some excellent fruitiness.




Yamazaki, Puncheon, bottled 2011, 48%abv

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2012


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: 21ct yellow gold

Nose: Furniture polish with hints of cardboard may not sound too good, but this is what the nose intiially offers and no, it's much better than it sounds. This is followed by a slightly bitter vanilla-iness and eventuially crθme caramel which expands further with more time in the glass.

This offers a smooth, almost leafy-like fruitiness which just gently expands across the palate with a warming tingle.

Finish: L
ong, almost very long with more of that warming tingle.

Overall Impression:
The Yamazaki Puncheon has a nose which initially suggests mediocrity but soon intensifies and the palate is even better so, overall a very good whisky and certainly well recommendable.





Suntory,  1998-2011

Cask No.CL40795, Special Edition for "Whisky Shop" 1st Anniversary

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Bright gold

Nose: Initially offering lots of fragrant hay and grasses with a kind of aromatic leafiness. After 3-4 minutes it expands to include vanilla and a hint of liquorice root, which in turn expand to a malty style of candy floss.

Very lively with lots of peppery vanilla. In fact it's a kind of vanilla-flavoured sherbert explosion which slowly fades to what I can only describe as a crθme caramel.

: Long, lively, creamy sherbert.

Overall Impression: A very lively and most enjoyable whisky.









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