Subtle, Refined and complex

We had a beautiful Masterclass from Tatsuya Minagawa from Suntory at Maltstock. He had a beautiful line up from Yamazaki with him. Japan’s first and oldest distillery. On their website is a beautiful movie about this distillery and history. They say that their whisky’s are subtle, refined and complex. Must agree with them there…

Japan has a mild climate with noticeable 4 seasons, and this compared to Scotland with a colder and tougher climate gives it a different way of working, but with the same methods. Yamazaki is capable of producing a variety of different types of Whisky.

They use wooden and stainless steel wash backs, have six different types and forms of stills who are heated with steam and fire and they use five different kind and sizes of casks. For a little video about the casks please have a look here.

They use Puncheon White Oak, Butt Japanese Oak, Sherry Butt, Spanish Oak, Hogshead White Oak, Barrel White Oak. Their barley comes from Scotland, and is not peated, but can be a bit, because it is not guaranteed that it is 0% non peated what they get.

I have had a couple of different ones from Japan before, but still it is a bit of a unknown thing to me, so there for I was very glad that I was able to attend this masterclass and learn some more about it. Was not a disappointment can tell you that! 

Now even more I will look out for the others coming from this beautiful land, but also am triggered more and more to try non Scottish Whisky. There is a lot out there, and it is growing…

Made some quick tasting notes on the ones he brought for us. 

The Yamazaki – 12 YO
Nose
Sweet, blossom, orange, soft fruits, apple, pineapple, honey, vanilla
Palate
Orange, spiced wood, marmalade, pepper, soft, honey, banana, sweet, caramel, vanilla
Finish
Bit dry wood on the finish with sweet honey, medium length finish.
The dry wood here can also be a bit like orange marmalade.
Score
7 out of 10. Nice, fresh and sweet one. But could have a bit, just a bit, more strength and depth to it I find, but it is perfect for a warm summers day…



The Yamazaki – Bourbon Barrel


Nose
Vanilla, raisin, green apple, honey, blossom, roses, tropical fruits, coconut. A hint of potpourri?
Palate
Warm, creamy, chocolate, butter, mango, coconut, sweet, raisin, vanilla, soft, tropical fruit, fudge and watermelon.
Finish
Medium long finish, sweet. 
Score
A 7 out of 10. More sweetness due to the bourbon barrel I think in this one then compared to the 12 YO. That one was more subtle. But the 12 YO could use a bit of the flavor depth that this one has maybe.


The Yamazaki – Puncheon 

Nose
Vanilla, raisin, sweet, fruits, apricots, biscuits, honey, butterscotch
Palate
Warm, honey, sweet, coconut, apricots, soft bit exotic fruits, pear, mango, chocolate, vanilla. Ans many tones like the Bourbon Barrel Yamazaki, but a bit more softer and creamy than that one.
Finish
Soft, sweet, not a very long finish. Found it going from a bit creamy and full to a bit watery. So it lost something somewhere.
Score
7 out of 10, this one needs to warm up a bit in the glass, then it opens up much more.
Found it just a bit better then the 12 YO due to the body and nose profile, more full and more depth in it, but due to the finish I ended up a bit lower then the Bourbon Barrel. So was shifting between different scores but when all added up, it is not a bad dram, far from that, would love a bottle, but it gives me the feeling that I am missing something somewhere? Seems not to be in a complete balance?
The Yamazaki – Mizunara – Japanese Oak Cask

Nose
Young wood, fresh, green, bit spicy, essence, soft, sweet, floral and cinnamon.
Palate
Chocolate, sweet, vanilla, honey, pepper, butterscotch, caramel, fudge, cinnamon
Finish
Soft, creamy, sweet medium long finish with a hint of cocoa in there.
Score
This one is definitely more balanced then the first ones. Has some denser tones in it, and keeps a good mix between the dark sweet tones and soft floral and spicy tones. An 7,5 out of 10. They say that due to the Japanese Oak used, this gives a totally different flavor profile, and on the nose you can notice some different tones…


The Yamazaki – Sherry Cask

Nose
Sweet, red fruit, orange, marmalade, chocolate, more complex nose
Palate
Warm, sweet, heavy dark red fruit, dried fruit, vanilla, peach, marmalade, orange, cherry, strawberry, chocolate, honey
Finish
Has a beautiful bite to it on the palate, what ends in a soft sweet finish, what lingers quite long, and ends in a chocolate, fudge and vanilla taste. Like a desert really. Tropical tones mixed with soft sweet fudge tones
Score
8 out of 10. Beautiful one, complex body and nose. Very sweet, but beautiful.
The Yamazaki – 18 YO

Nose
Soft, sweet, vanilla, chocolate, fudge, creamy, fruity, citrus
Palate
Soft, sweet, chocolate, fudge, pepper, soft fruit, vanilla, creamy, fudge, honey, cherry, coffee beans
Finish
A long sweet, soft, honeyed finish.
Score
8,5 out of 10, beautiful full expression. It is not the cheapest one, but will certainly have a lookout for this one. Very beautiful balanced. The flavours just kept coming, so I just stopped writing and just enjoying 🙂
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