Yamazaki Limited Edition 2017 43%abv

P1050309Nose: Turkish delights, creme brulee, red apples, red grapes, leather tobacco pouch, cinnamon, treacle, cloves, oak. Water brings out vanilla and intensifies the leather/tobacco notes.
Palate: Ginger snaps, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, tobacco, hint of sherry, gentle oak. red grapes, nutmeg, Arnott’s savory shapes, Turkish delights, marzipan, fig jam, bran. Water brings out some tangy orange, nutmeg, cashews and papaya.
Finish: Brandy snaps, spearmint, cashews, Turkish delights and bran.
Last Word: As per the 2016 the finish is a little short which again drops the score. If you have had previous versions you pretty much know what to expect. Very Japanese/Yamazaki is style. These sold for around Y10,000 in Japan which I think is very reasonable for the quality.

Rating: 88.5/100

Yamazaki Limited Edition 2016 43%abv

IMG_3975Nose: Raisins, figs, toffee, oak, cloves, cinnamon, custard apple, pepper, ginger bread, marmalade. A real pleasure to nose! Palate: Salt, cloves, marmalade, mixed nuts, candied nuts, toffee, Arnott’s savory shapes biscuits, raisins, figs. Very well balanced.
A bit of a let down after the nose and palate as it is fairly short. May be down to the 43%abv?
Last Word: Loses points for the weakish finish, but still the best of the Yamazaki Limited Editions of the 3 released so far in my opinion and really is a pleasure to nose and taste.

Rating: 88.5/100

Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 48%abv

P1050273Nose: No surprises if you have nosed a good Yamazaki Sherry Cask matured whisky. Dark cherries, tinned plums, blueberries, cherry ripe chocolate, caramelized orange jus, raisins, molasses, mint chocolate. Not a heavy hitting nose but really top notch none the less and continues to improve as it opens up with time.
Palate: Chocolate coated coffee beans, raisins, Brazil nuts, caramelized orange jus, cloves, salt, pistachio nougat. Balance is good but I would prefer a little more mouth coating rich fruitiness.
Finish: Some drying oak, cloves and lingers on the bittersweet chocolate coated coffee beans. Short, or more to the point not a lot of power in the length. Still, one you would have memories of the finish the following day.

Last Word: I’ve seen these sell at auction for around 2000 British Pounds recently. In reality, worth about the the original retail price of USD$300. If your going to spend that sort of money or even half as much I’d be going for one of the Single Cask Yamazaki Sherry Butt whiskies. The nose is the highlight.

Rating: 88/100

Yamazaki Limited Edition 2015 NAS 43%

BAL_0442Nose: Pretty much a replica of the 2014 limited edition posted below. This one has a little more of the sandalwood and is a tad sweeter with vanilla, fruit tingles added.
Palate: Creamier/richer than the 2014 and I would say the oak is a little better integrated/balanced. Apart from that we still have the raisins, licorice, leather, tobacco, cloves, papaya and brazil nuts.
Finish: As per the 2014 limited with the vanilla added. Maybe a little more bourbon cask in this one.
Last word: Richer(in a good way) and a bit better balances than the 2014.

Rating 87/100

Yamazaki Limited Edition 2014 NAS 43%

DSC_5005.jpgNose: A fair amount of oak indicates a mix that contains a decent amount of aged malt whisky. Toffee, maple syrup on toasted crumpets, rosehip, over ripe peaches, licorice, maltesers, ginger bread and sandalwood.
Palate: Ginger ale, raisins, pepper, oak, cloves. papaya, licorice, tobacco, brazil nuts, menthol.
Finish: Tobacco, brazil nuts, licorice, cloves and drying oak.
Last Word: Solid NAS whisky that clearly contains plenty of aged malt whisky.

Rating: 86/100

Yamazaki Single Cask Sherry Butt 1986 20YO #6B0168 51%abv

p1010418Nose: Lots of toasty notes. Roasted chestnuts, charred leather, caramelized orange jus, mixed peel.
Palate: Tangy orange, dates, nutmeg, cinnamon, leather, tobacco, chocolate, ginger, nougat, coconut, salted brazil nuts and a little smoke.
Finish: Dried fruits and nuts, cloves and some oaky dryness.
Last Word: Less sweet/rich than a typical dark sherry Yamazaki. Nice, but I’d prefer a bit more punch.

Rating: 88/100

Yamazaki Single Cask for JR Osaka Mitsukoshi Isetan 1998-2011 Sherry Butt #CU 70062 61%abv

yamazaki-single-cask-sherry-butt-for-isetan-jr-osaka-1998-61Nose: Beautifully rich, classic Yamazaki dark sherry. Leads with a bucket load of raisins. Blackberry conserve, ginger spice, stew rhubarb, balsamic, dark honey. Dark chocolate, oyster sauce, caramelised orange jus, sherry soaked oak. No harshness even at 61%.
Palate: Massive concentration of dried fruits, raisins, currents, papaya. Big salt, fresh ginger heat, black plums, toasted oak, some red wine like tannins. Water brings out leather, nutmeg, cocoa, blood oranges and ups the tannins.
Finish: Long and juicy. With water raisins, nutmeg, cocoa, oyster sauce, balsamic, menthol, almonds, dark chocolate and the drying tannins. Prefer this with only a few drops of water at the most.
Last Word: Color as black as ink in the bottle and as resolved as a good 18YO. Big, bold and beautiful. What a cask selection. Pays to be located only 25 minutes from the distillery me thinks. Not to be confused with cask #CU 70067 found at Isetan/s in Tokyo. 70062 is superior across the board.

Rating: 92/100

Yamazaki Heavily Peated 2013 No Age Statement 48%abv


Nose: Lightly peated nose despite the name. Butterscotch, pink grapefruit, honey, incense, oak, autumn leaves and earthy tones.
Palate: Heavy ash, earthy peat,, burnt almonds, black pepper, lemon meringue, honey, salted chocolate.
Finish: Ashy with hot spices, honey, macadamias and earthy peat.
Last word A solid but not spectacular effort, though as I loved the ’93 single cask I had probably set my expectations a bit too high.

Rating: 87/100

Yamazaki Vintage Malt 1980-2004 Sherry Cask 56%

p1010113Nose: A bag of dried fruits. Dry sherry, licorice, cinnamon, caramelized sugar, smoked orange, bbq sauce, duck sauce, soy sauce, soft leather, dried autumn leaves and caramel.
Palate: Cola drenched orange slices, licorice oil, pepper, brazil nuts, leather satchel, well judged oak, dried fruits, fruit tingles, salt. Plenty of bold spiciness.
Finish: Brazil nuts, dry sherry, licorice, chocolate, almonds, nougat, oak, dried fruits, fruit tingles and a little ash.
Last Word: Quite different to the sweeter, dark sherry style I am used to from Yamazaki but appealingly so. Big hitting and balanced at the same time.

Rating: 91/100
*Notes taken from the sample in photo.

Suntory Single Malt Yamazaki Sherry Butt for Isetan 15YO 61%

yamazaki-sherry-cask-for-isetan-15yo-61Nose: Classic Yamazaki dark sherry notes. Rich yet elegant. Dark cherries, plums, chocolate, coffee, leather, sweet spices and oak.
Palate: Great development on dark fruits, fruit gums, ginger snaps. cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, Japanese forests, cloves. Sweet but never cloying the oak adds some balancing dryness. No need for water.
Finish: Follows the palate with some added mint, blackberry and tobacco leaf. Excellent length.
Final Word: Another fabulous Yamazaki sherry cask bottling.

Rating: 92/100

Yamazaki Heavily Peated 2013 No Age Statement 48%

Although this news has been released by Suntory for a short time already, some readers may not have picked up on it. Good news, if you live in Japan and have some retail contacts you may be able to pick up a bottle or two. Bad news, if you live outside of Japan and don’t have any retail contacts there you are likely to miss out until they reach auctions and you have to pay at least double the price as this apparently is a Japan only release. Heavily Peated NAS Hakushu have been available for retail sale in the UK/Europe.
Interesting that this is another No Age Statement bottling from Suntory which indicates one of 2 things. That previous news of low stock numbers at Yamazaki and/or Hakushu are true(due to the recent popularity of Japanese whisky), hence having to blend younger and older stock, or, it’s a way to keep the price down as single cask offerings like the Yamazaki Heavily Peated 1993 can cost a ‘motsa’ these days. Personally, I’m going with the former. Reading Suntory’s own website they seem to be looking at ramping up production, more to follow on that.
So bottom line, there will be 3500 bottles of this and official release day is 23 April. Contact your Japanese whisky supplier if you have one.
Final word, Yamazaki Heavily Peated whisky tends to be just that, with Hakushu Heavily Peated whisky tending to be more mid range than heavy so this one should be interesting.

Suntory Yamazaki Taradeshi Genshu Sherry Cask NAS 54%


Nose: Spiced orange liqueur, oak, varnish, dry sherry, marmalade. A bit of a blunt instrument the way it presents itself.
Palate: Oranges, raisins, oak, mixed peel, some overripe strawberries mixed grapefruit bitterness.
Finish: Pretty simple and lacks balance.
Last Word: I’m a huge fan of Yamazaki sherry cask mature whisky and this one doesn’t cut the mustard.

Rating: 78/100

Yamazaki 18YO 43%abv circa 2012

p1000841Nose: Sultanas, raisins, orange peel, sweet incense, nougat, honey, vanilla, fish oil, old leather. Nice balance of American Oak, Spanish Sherry and Japanese Mizunara casks.
Palate: Nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar. Raisins, currents, sultanas, donut frosting, bubblegum, almonds.
Finish: Sultanas, raisins, sweet orange peel, cigars, old leather, oak, marshmallows, nougat.
Last Word: The flavors I expect from this whisky are there, but somehow the palate/finish feels a little flat compared to previous years. Almost like it’s watered down a little. Still nice, but drops a few points because of this.

Rating: 87/100
*Notes taken from the sample in photo November 2012

Yamazaki 25YO Sherry Cask 43% abv

p1000836Nose: Very heavy sherry. Molasses, red berries, incense, cigars, old leather, white peaches, blood oranges, dark cherries, bbq mesquite, well steeped tea, oak.
Palate: Dry sherry, almonds, cranberries, sweet orange, cigars, marshmallows, sarsaparilla and some seriously heavy duty dry oak.
Finish: Dominated by drying old wood, which ruins any semblance of balance.
Last Word: Did I mention this one runs up to $1000 a bottle? Well past it’s used by date.

Rating: 79/100
* Notes taken from the sample in photo November 2012.

Yamazaki 1984 48%abv

p1000832Nose: Rich and deep. Very Asian exotic with lots of temple incense notes. High quality pu-erh tea. Chinese five spice, orange glazed maraschino cherries, a less sweet Ron Zacapa XO Centenario rum, earthy peat, oyster sauce, conifer forest, drying tobacco leaf, Lindt orange chocolate, mint chocolate, apricot jam.
Palate: Chinese five spice, Peking duck, light peat, cloves, sweet orange glaze, sweet tobacco, cola extract, cranberries, chewy toffee/nougat, Granny Smith apples. Expressive.
Finish:: Long, thick and mouth coating. Chinese five spice, Ron Zacapa XO Centenario, cloves, tobacco, nougat, honey yoghurt, apricot jam, a little peat and well integrated oak.
Last Word: Equal to the hype. To bad about the price.

Rating: 94/100
*Notes are taken from the sample in photo November 2012

Yamazaki 12 43%abv circa 2012

yamazaki-12-circa-2012Nose: Temple incense, sandlewood, brown sugar, orange, oak, tinned pears, banana. A lot of influence from the Mizunara(Japanese Oak) casks.
Palate: Fruit and nut mix. Banana, sandlewood, honey and tobacco.
Finish: Short-medium on banana, vanilla, sandlewood, honey, cinnamon and tobacco. Smooth and balance.
Last Word: Best batch I’ve tried and a reminder that it can be beneficial to try these ‘standards’ over different years.

Rating: 87/100

Yamazaki Mizunara(Japanese Oak) Cask 2012 No Age Statement 48%

p1000698Nose: Wild flowers, asian incense, vanilla, peach fuzz, bees wax, lemon sherbert, creamy oak, parafin, raisins. Elegant and aromatic.
Palate: Creamy, then sweet spices of nutmeg and cinnamon. Wild flowers, asian incense, vanilla, pecan pie, anise, dragonfruit, camomile tea, macadamia nuts.
Finish: Wild flowers, incense, sweet tobacco, bees wax, pecan pie, menthol and a little drying wood.
Last Word: Unique and gets better with every sip.

Rating: 89/100

Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2012 No Age Statement 48%

p1000696Nose: A bucket load of raisins, currants and sultanas. Black cherry liqueur. orange jus injected oak, cherry chocolate, prunes, stewed rhubarb, merlot, oak, beef stock cubes and menthol. Expressive.
Palate: A sweet spice attack. Rhubarb, prunes, cocoa, raisins, currants, blackcurrant jam, sweet orange, pecans. Brazil nuts. Peanut butter, butter menthols and some drying oak.
Finish: Medium length with a  sweet/dry combo of the flavours on the palate. Balanced and complex.
Last Word: For me this a benchmark for affordable sherry cask matured whisky. Even better than the 2011 version which I rated highly.

Rating: 91/100

Yamazaki Puncheon 2012 No Age Statement 48%

p1000857Nose: Pineapple, stewed pears, white peaches, lime, banana custard, vanilla, unsalted cashews, oak.
Palate: Coconut, creamed corn, stewed pears, lime, pepper (lots), ginger, nutmeg, vanilla.
Finish: Medium length on coconut, apple sauce, bees wax, vanilla, nutmeg, pepper and ginger.
Last Word: Fruit and spices, what’s not to like? A few points better in my opinion than the 2011 release.

Rating: 87/100

Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel 2012 No Age Statement 48%

p1000693Nose: A lot more vanilla than than the 2011 release. Lemon barley, grapefruit, apricots, butterscotch, nutmeg, measured oak, varnish, wood spices.
Palate: Apricots, pecans, oak, wood spices, vanilla, malt, nutmeg.
Finish: Shortish with apricots, grapefruit, pecans and wood spices dominating.
Last Word: More typical of a bourbon cask matured whisky than the 2011 release with it’s heavy tropical fruit notes and flavours.
Rating: 85/100