If you followed my blog in the last year, you probably know that I received a few Japanese Whisky bottles from Japan. One of those bottles was the Japan-only Yamazaki Single Malt. Yamazaki is probably the best known Japanese whisky brand around the world. They were the first (and oldest) distillery, established in 1923 and the 12/18 yo whiskies are well known and popular everywhere. So back to that bottle I have, you probably wonder – aren’t all Yamazaki expression single malts? Well, the simple answer is that this bottle has no age statement, therefor it carries the title of “Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky”. This is a new Yamazaki release announced at May 2012 that signaled the end of Yamazaki 10 yo era. As a whisky geek, I immediate thought – hey, I need to compare them! So thanks to my buddy Franck (see his french blog here) , I got Yamazaki 10yo sample. But just before I went and compare them head to head, a friend of mine got a bottle of the 12yo, so I toyed with the idea of a full core-range Yamazaki vertical. I checked around, another friend came in with a bottle of the Yamazaki 18yo and the Yamazaki vertical was born. Too bad I couldn’t lay my hands on a Yamazaki 25yo bottle or sample (after all it’s very expensive one!) so we’ll leave that one to future high-end Yamazaki vertical 😉 So are we due to some surprises?
Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky (NAS, 40%, 350ml sold in Japan for ~10£)
Nose: Vanilla, spicy, barley, some freshly removed wall plaster chips, fruity notes headed by grapefruits. Palate: smooth and creamy (even for such young age) with bitter tannins, spicy, oak & vanilla Finish: Short, very oaky but gentle, some smooth bitterness.
Yamazaki 10 yo (40%, discontinued can you can still buy online. Here for £47.25)
Nose: More spicy then the NAS one on initial sniff, but filling a bit less of vanilla. Pudding, creme brulee, fruity notes – some apples and grapefruits. Palate: This one is has more substance. Chewy and creamy, more rounded. some nice spicy attack at the end, vanilla. Finish: Medium length, rounded and smooth, spiciness lingers but has some sweet honey touch.
Yamazaki 12 yo (43%, buy here for £45.15)
Nose: Spicy again but more gentle, sweeter & fruitier. Some citrus & tropical, vanilla, honey. Palate: Spicy, sweet oak, some vanilla showing at the background, fruits. Finish: Meduim length (shorter then 10 yo one), gentle, oak and spice (kind of zesty oak)
Yamazaki 18 yo (43%, buy here for £109.99)
Nose: Gentle and rounded, spicy sweetness – it’s spicy but not pushing it, sweeter, some herbal notes, sweet mint, fruits & citrus. Palate: Initial oak, chocolate & spice, fading in, then return of spices & fruits, all very gentle and balanced in harmony. Finish: Long but gentle, oak, spices. Lovely Conclusion: The new NAS bottling is not as good as the discontinued 10 yo bottling, but it’s cheaper :-). The 10 yo is very close to 12 yo in terms of tasting notes and quality with the 12 yo having the edge here – so it’s not really surprising that Suntory stopped producing the 10 yo. As expected, the 18 yo is the best of them all. It’s a classic and highly praised whisky and I highly recommend you get a bottle of this one (If it’s too expensive for your wallet – go for the 12 yo as it’s good bang for your money). Slainte!
Nice stuff Yoav. I just received a sample of the 18 years so I will try that one out in January. Keep up the good work and all the best in 2014!
The 18 yo is very good as you will find out soon 🙂
You too keep up the good job. for even better 2014!
It was a great tasting indeed, and I am glad to have the Yamazaki 18.
In my opinion though, the 12 yo is considerably more complex and full than the 10 – I will not mourn its passing. The 12yo is great VFM, and well worth experimenting with water despite the low strength.
We should try to do the same with Nikka malts!
The 18 yo is in my (very lengthy) wish list 🙂
Yup we should try the same with Nikka. Want to compile a list of malts for the vertical? 🙂
I’ll sniff around and see what we can come up with 🙂
I’ll need to seek some of this out, I’m particularly interested in the NAS. Good review. Kirsty
The NAS is Japan-only but I can send you sample. ping me on twitter 🙂
you are a star Yoav, cheers, will drop you a dm and I’m tasting your friends sample tonight, sorry its taken so long. We’ve not been able to shake off the cold for weeks, but I can finally smell again, just as Stewart has started to get rough with it.
You rock. let Stewart have some. might cure his cold 🙂
lol will do and we’ll email you our notes. 🙂