Founded in 1923, the Yamazaki distillery – named after the Yamazaki Valley, where the distillery lays – is the oldest distillery in Japan. And that, I’m afraid, is pretty much all the history I could find. I suppose that leaves us with little choice but to go straight for the tasting. Ah, life can be tough at times, wouldn’t you say?
I was actually given the miniature bottle standing in front of me by the owner of my favorite whisky shop. We were talking, as we often do, about various whiskys and our latest tastings, and as it happens he had just tried the Yamazaki and quite liked it. A fairly delicate, medium bodied whiskey, this 12 year old expression has many qualities in common with Scotch whiskys. It brings to mind its Speyside brethren in particular.
The nose is well malted with definite hints of blossom, warm honey, butterscotch, anise and just a hint of dark orange chocolate. The malt remains highly visible and has a buttery quality, it is accompanied by a decisively woody, quite dry, flavour and hints of vanilla, orange zest and just a bit of smoke. Perhaps slightly too pricey for me, with the Balvenie 12 year old being a good 5-6 pound cheaper – which, of course, is not a substantial amount of money – but if you think of it in percent instead (Yamazaki is about 20% more), the difference is quite substantial
Color: dark golden.
Nose: malt, dark orange chocolate, warm honey, blossom, butterscotch and anise.
Taste: malty, dry wood, vanilla, orange zest and a light touch of smoke.
Definitely a whiskey worth drinking, and I would recommend it if you want to venture outside of Scotland, but perhaps just a little bit too pricey for my liking.