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!