Yamazaki Puncheon Review

“Rebel Rebel”

Country: Japan
Brand: Yamazaki Puncheon
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Bottled in 2013, the final year of the Cask Collection Series)
ABV: 48 % 
Chill-Filtration: No  

Colour: Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Edgy, Sweet, Floral and Fruity. The Alcohol is quite present. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Croissant, Breakfast Cereals, Wax, Heather-Honey, Grass, Straw, Vanilla, Assorted Fruit Flavoured Candies, Banana Ice Cream, Charred Oak, Plum - and Peach Marmalade, Lemon and Cinnamon. It's not bad but there's a slight Artificial feel to it. I also miss a bit of Balance. It's almost like Oak and Spirit are fighting each other in stead of living together in Harmony. 

Palate: Without any doubt the most Aggressive Palate of all the Japanese Single Malts I've tasted so far. The Alcohol, Oak and Spices are quite dominant. I also find Sweet Barley, Buttered Pastry, Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Plums, Citrus, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves and Ginger. Sour White Grapes towards the end. 

Finish: Medium-Long, Sweet and Spicy with a Sour, Medium Dry Finish. I find Sweet Barley, Milky Way Candy Bar, Vanilla, Ginger Ale, Butter, Apple Juice, Sour White Grapes, Alcohol, Lemon, Pepper, Cinnamon and Nutmeg. A light Metallic-like off-note after a while.

Even with added Water, the Alcohol on the Nose remains strong. More Floral - and Malty notes pop up. Closer to Speyside now. Palate and Finish do not benefit from the added Water. Especially the Finish becomes a little Rough, Bitter-Sweet and Sour. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 83

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5

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 for this Yamazki Puncheon matures in Ex-Bourbon Puncheons of 480 litres made of American White Oak instead of the regular Hogsheads that contain 230 litres. 
As a result it matures slightly slower as there is less Wood contact. It's not cheap and its price varies between 125 and 300 US Dollars, depending on the location. The average price lies around 150 US Dollars (March 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: It's a very interesting Japanese Single Malt. There's little "Hibiki" or Harmony to be found here. It's a bit Edgy here and there but it certainly shows character. On the other hand it's not very complicated. Despite the fact that I get traces of various Aromas and Flavours, the Wood, Vanilla and Spices are the main Drivers of this Yamazaki accompanied by Floral and Fruity notes. On the Palate and in the Finish I find it slightly on the Sour side and that's not quite to my taste. It's a bit of a Rebel among the Japanese Single Malts and I like that! It's way too expensive though for what it offers. But so is all Japanese whisky at this point in time. Still, it's a pity that the Puncheon has been discontinued. It has guts! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                   March 31, 2016

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