Review: Yamazaki 12 Year Old Japanese Single Malt Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

12 Years
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Yamazaki (Osaka, Japan)

Yamazaki is between Osaka and Kyoto, Japan’s first whisky distillery built by Shinjiro Torii. It has 6 different stills all of different shapes and sizes. There are different estimates around how many different styles of malts produced here puts them around 120 –  but no one knows for certain. The distillery is owned by Suntory – one of the world whisky giants.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

The nose is bready, with some very clear barley notes, papaya, marmelade, and tomato chutney. Also in the mix we have some light floral notes like jasmine, peach, apple, and cinnamon. The palata is quite full, with a focus on buttery barley which is quite magnificent in my opinion. There’s also oak and some fruit in the background, nicely placed around the barley. Very light tannin in the mix as well. The mouthfeel is smooth, though not too thick.  Cinnamon, barley, pear, with a slow light cleansing character on the finish. The flavour has a decent size to it, with bitterness that fades away leaving more of a creamy, slightly sweet, barley character.

I’ve never tasted a whisky which so clearly shows barley in a manner as close to the plain cooked grain as this one. Buttery barley, balanced by pear, vanilla, oak, and light tannin to give an edge. Nicely done.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). Very nice. At the top of this category.

Value: Low. In many places, this isn’t cheap (~$200 CAD).