Yamazaki Distillery Bottlings Tasting Notes

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Japanese Whisky, Yamazaki

Suntory Yamazaki 12 year old 43%

Tasted: Sept 2010

A sharp, slightly spirity nose. Quite grassy with hints of lemon/ lime and sawdusty oak. The palate is slightly oily, with an initial dishwater-like quality. Slightly spirity with citrus and subtle vanilla oak and a hint of spice on the finish. Straightfoward.

I will say that I tasted this in a bar in Chester and it was literally the dregs of the bottle, in fact it wasn’t even a full measure so I got it for free. I have no idea how long it had been open for and I would imagine that it had decayed somewhat, so this tasting note may not be a fair assessment of this malt.

Yamazaki 12 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: May 2012

An oily, marzipan coated sherry trifle nose with a good dollop of coconut custard! Beautiful balance between the sherry and the ferny, foresty, slightly minty fresh distillery character.

The palate opens with some dense, herbal barley with the sherry sitting pliantly in the background. Quite oily on the middle with hints of hazelnut and banana. Wonderfully weighted with a long, spicy coconut finish. It does dry a little towards the end and there is a slight bittering from the oak, but this is a fabulous malt.

Yamazaki 12 year old 43%

Re- Tasted: June 2014

Full, dense and honeyed aromas. Quite sweet with tropical fruit – apple, banana, apricot and gristy barley. There is a good dollop of American oak. I would guess both first and refill with a little sappy, grainy Mizuna oak. A slight sherry richness can be discerned with a touch of coffee, milk chocolate and gentle earthy peat interwoven.

The palate is full and soft with the creamy American oak up first followed by honey, apricot, melon and banana. Seriously luscious, juicy and exuberantly fruity. The chocolaty wood tannins, light resin and light spices arrive on the middle along with some rich, sherried notes. Very long and juicy with the sweet oak and sweet-ish fruit lingering.

Suntory Yamazaki 18 year old 43%

Tasted: Mar 2006

Rich aromas of sherry citrus fruit. Quite perfumed with honey, passion fruit, orange blossom and a delicate, soft spiciness. Excellent complexity.

Soft on the palate, opening with pretty spicy, creamy apricot and honeyed fruit. The middle is sensationally bursting with fruit and laced with the most delightfully soft honey. Very intense and very long with a minty fresh finish.

Yamazaki 18 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: Feb 2015

Nose: Pungent, oily, softly nutty sherry aromas with some rum-lik dreied fruit – sultana and grape. With time a touch of vanilla appears.

Palate: Oily and nutty with a profusion of sherried dried fruit along with hints of liquorice and dark honey. Lovely building spices but the tannins are building too!

Finish: Good, spicy finish with the oak encroaching and giving it quite an austere feel.

Suntory Yamazaki 25 Years Old 43%

Tasted: Mar 2012

A huge, oily and intense nose of venerable Oloroso sherry, showing plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg wood spices along with lavender and musky/ floral Armagnac-esque dried fruit. Stunningly good but the sherry has swamped any spirit character.

The palate is thick and juicy and Oloroso’d, just like the nose – A serious sherry monster! Wonderfully mature with an abundance of wood spices and dried fruit. Stunningly deep and elegant. Long, with a floral/ lavender, pot pourri and spice finish.

Suntory Yamazaki 25 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: Feb 2013

Nose: A very intense and leafy nose of first fill Oloroso. Loads of sherry spice and dried fruit. Showing some age with a pleasant smoky nuance and a touch of treacle and tar.

Palate: Very much like the nose. Bold sherry fruit and spice. Very clean and full with some building soft tannins.

Finish: Long with plenty of wood spice and lightly bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: All about the sherry cask, but its good, clean sherry though.

Yamazaki 25 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: Feb 2014

Nose: A huge nose of moist fruitcake, walnuts and sweet, sweet sherry. Hints of toasted spice attempt to emerge from the treacly morass. With time it becomes a little bitter with an over stewed coffee notes appearing.

Palate: Sweet and treacly. Just like a mouthful of Pedro Ximinez sherry. Clean, sweet, grapey and luscious with plenty of dried plum and raisin. It becomes a little rum-like on the middle and spekled with wood spice.

Finish: Long and soft with the sweet, coffee’d, treacly sherry lingering.

Conclusion: Hmm, do I detect a bit of sherry cask?

Suntory Yamazaki ‘Bourbon Barrel’ 48.2%

Tasted: Aug 2012

An immediate hit of American oak. Densely packed oak vanillins mingle with some rich barley, a touch of apricot and some light grassy notes. There is even a thin seam of peat and with time it does become quite aromatic with hints of lime emerging as well as a light tropical sheen.

The palate opens just like the nose with the dense, grainy, but soft oak tannins, liberally coated with some vanilla oils and a distinctly Bourbon character. A short, but intense alcohol burst clears the palate and leaves room for the light barley, citrus and grass accentuated middle. Again delicately peated and earthy with the oak bittering the finish a tad.

A drop of water brings out some lush orange as the oak retreats and on the palate it’s now pure vanilla pod with some gentle, crumbly spices. The oak although still bitters the finish. I have to say that hand on heart it’s not quite up to the standard of the Hakushu Bourbon Barrel.

Suntory Yamazki Puncheon 48%

Aged in a 480 litre Puncheon

Tasted: Oct 2012

The nose is youthful but overloaded with bright tropical banana and apricot with floral overtones of honeysuckle and gorse. The oak has a gentle vanilla ice cream character and it comes across quite Spey like (American oak aged Linkwood?) with a touch of barley and grass. Wonderfully fresh and fragrant.

The palate opens with some earthy, honeyed, green banana and hints of grass. It’s a bit tannic to begin with which is surprising but then the spices kick in and the oak really bitters. Good grief my lips are puckering and my eyes are watering! Damn that’s almost painful! When that bitterness subsides it does finish with a return of the honey and grassy notes. So much for ageing in a larger oak cask to play down the oak character! I’m guessing that this must have been a new American oak Puncheon. In saying all that it is a serious impressive dram!

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