Suntory is one of the premier whisky distilleries in Japan. Founded in 1923, Yamazaki distillery is the birthplace of Japanese single malt whisky. The eponymous Yamazaki is also the name of their core expression which is best selling whisky in Japan. Obsessed with the quality of their whisky it is rumored that Suntory uses all of their best casks in their core expressions. Typically distilleries will save the best casks to be released as special single cask bottlings, but not Suntory.
Yamazaki 18 is aged in a variety of casks including ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and Japanese mizunara oak. won countless whisky awards across the globe in seemingly every competition in which it is entered. Most notably it received double gold medals at the San Francisco Spirits Competition from 2008 to 2012. Unfortunately, the 18 year old is the oldest expression currently available in the US. Hopefully one day they’ll bring the 25 year old over to the States as well as some of their bourbon and puncheon cask offerings. A more thorough version of Suntory’s rich history can be found here.
Nose: red fruits, cherries, black currant, honey, raisins
Mouth: sherry, cherries, rich and buttery, dried plum, chocolate
Finish: goes down very smooth, flavor is long and lingering, caramel, chocolate, orange citrus, light smoke
Verdict: This full bodied malt is an absolute stunner and is the best Japanese single malt available in the US. The sherry notes are precise and very direct in this dram. The notes of cherries, dried plum and chocolate come across clearly in the spirit. One might expect this full bodied whisky to be harsh, but the feel on your the tongue is actually buttery and oily. The finish is satisfyingly long with some hints of peat smoke in the background.
If you’ve had Yamazaki 12 and are wondering how it compares to the 18 – the 12 is young and vibrant while the 18 is bold, mature and luxurious. Additionally the 18 is noticeably more sophisticated and is much sweeter. At $135+ a bottle of Yamazaki 18 is best saved for special occasions. Not everybody will be willing to spend that kind of money on a bottle of whisky, but if you are then you need not look any further than Yamazaki 18.
Where to Buy
Astor Wines & Spirits – 399 Lafayette St New York, NY 10003
Park Avenue Liquor Shop – 292 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Where to Sip
– 37 W. 26th St. New York, NY 10010
Angels Share – 8 Stuyvesant St. New York,, NY 10003