Yamazaki is one of the first Japanese distilleries to be built. Established in 1923 and situated in the vale of Yamazaki, the whisky is born from the natural craftsmanship and climate of Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, an area of dense bamboo grooves at the foot of Mt. Tennozan. In 1984, the Yamazaki 12-year-old single malt whisky was released. The 12-year-old expression is intense, confident and yet elegant: this single malt whisky directly presents these features of the Yamazaki distillery. That said, the 18-year-old expression only further enhances these characteristics. Over the past few years, Yamazaki has won the approval of many whisky aficionados alike, as well as winning a few awards along the way too. Strangely enough, of all the Yamazaki whisky we’ve posted in the past, the Distiller’s Reserve has never been one of them – possibly an oversight on our part. The Distiller’s Reserve represents the entry-level expression into Yamazaki but don’t think for a moment that you are getting a second-rate Japanese whisky, it is far from.
On the nose: you’ll get a lovely waft of raisins, pears, strawberries, vanilla an unexpected note of peppermint. These initial notes are closely followed by a touch of Mizunara, nutmeg and cinnamon. After a few swirls in the glass more note in the form of cherries, coffee and toffee start to emerge; backup by notes of cantaloupe melons, brown sugar and a suggestion of honey. Rounding off the nose are notes of dark chocolate, lychess, a slight hint of a buttery-like flavour and walnuts. On the palate: those pears are ever-present followed by dark chocolate, Mizunara and walnuts. There’s a lovely leathery like note in there alongside coffee, raspberries and peaches. The palate is completed with notes of salty nature, cinnamon, all-spice, coconut and toasted barley. The finish: is medium, sweet, spicy with lingering oaky nuttiness and ripe fruits.
The verdict: It almost goes without saying that Yamazaki Single Malt is one of the finest Japanese whiskies out there. But I’ve hesitated at grabbing a bottle of this Distiller’s Reserve on many occasions. Why? Simply because its their entry-level single malt Yamazaki (snobbery) but as you can tell from my tasting notes, it has so much to offer. It is a well-rounded whisky, with tonnes of depth in flavour that have been nicely balanced. Bottled at 43% ABV, in my opinion, I don’t believe there is any need to add water, however, do so if required. Also leaving it to breathe for up to 5 minutes, also yields more depth in flavour.
Suntory Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve Japanese Single Malt Whisky, can be found online or in-store at any well-stocked whisky shop from anywhere between £45 – 65, depending on where you choose to purchase it.
For more information on this Distiller’s Reserve Yamazaki expression, visit the official Suntory website.