Yamazaki 12 Years Review

Country: Japan
Brand: Suntory Yamazaki
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol: 43%

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Crisp and not too heavy. Malt, Cherries, Light Peat, Cinnamon, Blossom and Quality Oak are the first impressions followed by Honey and Tropical Fruit (Banana, Coconut and Pineapple). A bit of Alcohol but certainly within limits. Dried Fruits. The Honey and Floral tones on the nose are similar to Speyside malts. But with the Yamazaki we get Tropical Fruits instead of Sherry and the Wood is certainly different. Still, it would be difficult to keep them apart at a blind tasting session.

Taste: Strong delivery thanks to the 43%. Sweet Grain, Honey, Toffee and Dry Oak with Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Nutmeg and Pepper. A whisky to chew on! The strong presence of Fine Oak sets this whisky apart from others tasted so far.

Finish: Sweet at first but dry towards the end. Honey, Apple and Oak. Very faint Peat and Ashes. Notes of Tea, Nuts and Tobacco. White Pepper to finish it off. But it all fades away too fast unfortunately.

When adding a bit of water, the Floral tones and Peat start dominating the nose. The palate becomes very smooth and honeyed and the Oak disappears to the background. I prefer it straight but you can certainly experiment with a bit of water. Just never overdo it!

Rating: 86,5

Nose: 21.5 – Taste: 22.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

General Remarks: The first malt whisky distillery in Japan was constructed by the Suntory Founder Shinjiro Torii in 1923 in the Yamazaki Valley close to the city of Kyoto. The place was chosen because its water, soil and climate were similar to Scotland. It was the first distillery of this kind outside Scotland and it used copper pot stills. Today the Suntory Yamazaki is the most popular Single Malt in Japan and it is exported to more than 25 countries.

Since 1972 Suntory is importing its malted barley from Scotland and Australia. The spirit is aged in a mixture of casks from American -, Spanish – and Japanese Oak.

Drinking Experience Neat:  Good

Conclusion: It doesn’t happen a lot but the Yamazaki 12 Years scored better on the palate than on the nose. The nose is crisp and tropical along with Speyside Blossom and Honey, but it’s the palate that steals the show combining rich sweet Honey and Toffee with a handful of Spices and a first class dry Oak. Nice combination. The finish is dry and agreeable but way too short. What stands out in this Single Malt is the Wood Quality. If you like the Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Years or Glenmorangie Original 10 Years, you really should give the Yamazaki a chance although it is more expensive!

Jan van den Ende                                                              January 12, 2012


Whiskycuse said...

Hello Jan,

this is Marcus from Germany.
Did you try the 18 yo, yet? Its absolutely amazing (in my opinion).

BTW: is writing comments in german also o.k.? I am afraid my engllish is not the best...

kind regards

Jan van den Ende said...

Hi Marcus,

Thanks for your reaction. Ofcourse you can comment in German as well although your English is quite okay! I have not tried the 18 yet but am looking for a sample. I have only heard good things about it!
Take care and see you around!