Japanese whiskey is slowly starting to appear in better bars and restaurants throughout the United States. While still in its early stages of introduction to most American whiskey drinkers, Japanese whiskey is generally held in high regard by experienced whiskey connoisseurs.
The 12-year-old offering from Yamazaki makes a perfect introduction into the world of Japanese whiskey and its subtle, honeyed flavor is both sophisticated and satisfying.
About Suntory's Whiskies
Some of the very best Japanese whiskeys are made by Suntory which operates two distilleries and produces three labels.
The whiskey from the Hakushu distillery was only just recently released to the United States market and includes a fantastic range. The whiskeys produced at Yamazaki are just as impressive and this location has the distinction of being the oldest whiskey distillery in Japan. Hibiki is the third brand label produced by Suntory and this is a blend of whiskeys from both of those distilleries.
The Review of Yamazaki 12 Year Old
Japanese whiskeys are modeled on the Scottish whiskey industry and both single malts and blends being produced.
One notable difference with Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Single Malt is that the wash (or thin beer created prior to distillation) is fermented longer than usual in wooden washbacks. This results in a creamy character which is noticeable on both the nose and on the palate.
There is a bright tropical fruit note that is reminiscent of a sunny, summer day picnic, with pineapple, citron, honeysuckle and pine sap aromas appearing before dried fruit notes begin to appear.
The Body and Palate
Yamazaki 12 Year has rich, full-bodied mouthfeel which is surprising for its age. This whiskey is aged in a combination of American, Spanish and Japanese oak barrels, adding influences from all three types of barrels and it definitely shows up on the palate.
Warm apricot jam, vanilla wafer, and berry flavors dance over the palate while an undercurrent of spice runs just underneath the surface flavors providing complexity and depth. This is a wonderful whiskey and the flavor profile on the palate leaves one excited for what is to come on the finish.
On the finish, Yamazaki 12 Year offers a nice assortment of dried fruit and spice notes. Think dried apricots and peaches, orange marmalade, cedar, cinnamon, vanilla, allspice and a lovely hint of clove. As those initial flavors begin to recede from the finish, a light berry note makes a final appearance offering a pleasing mix of fresh raspberry, blueberry, and red currant before slipping away.
Yamazaki 12 is an outstanding whiskey in any category and makes a perfect introduction into the world of Japanese whiskey. As a suggested retail price of $50, it is a great value for a whiskey of this depth and complexity.
Start your journey through the world of Japanese whiskey today by picking up a bottle of Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Single Malt and you'll find some world-class whiskeys.