Suntory Yamazaki Distillers Reserve

Yamazaki Distillers Reserve
Distillery/Brand: Suntory Yamazaki | Region: Japan | ABV: 43% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 87

Review
Yamazaki is a powerhouse of a distillery. Competing alongside Nikka for my affections it is routinely churning out brilliant expressions. The 12 and the 18 – both having secured cult status. The 25 that I have sitting on my shelf which I am saving for the most momentous of occasions.

Then there are the Hakushus coming out from the same gates. Saltier and more maritime in nature and equally good.

But what I love most is the air of intrigue and minimalistic sophistication Japanese whiskies bring with them. There is nothing which is too much or unnecessary. Nothing is loud or overbearing. Instead there is a controlled elegance to everything they represent.

While the Yamazaki Distillers Reserve may not be the best Yamazaki I have tasted it is quite decent in it’s own right.

Expertly blended by Shinji Fukuyo, the fourth Chief Blender of Yamazaki, the Distillers Reserve is a mix of three unique casks; Wine, Sherry & Mizunara. And there seems to be something from each in the final spirit.

Nose: Malty. Butterscotch. Pepper. Dry fruit. Sugar frosting. A ton of pineapple. Jack fruit and papaya. All the tropical fruits in the world. The wine comes through in a fruity chardonnay with a hint of oak. Decently accomplished if not magnificent.

Palate: Very thin. Apples. Light honey. Mid-palate it becomes fruitier. It’s the same tropical suspects. Bananas with the faintest of mangoes. Hints of oak. I think it’s trying to be a Speysider but not really doing a good enough job of it.

Finish: Medium with a touch of spice. My least favorite part.

Look, I keep saying this one is far from magnificent but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a pour.

Rating: 87

Yamazaki 18

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Distillery/Brand: Suntory Yamazaki
Region: Japan
ABV: 43%
Colour: Deep Gold

Nose: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 21
Balance: 22

Review
Suntory is a powerhouse and even when some of their offerings fall short they still manage to stay reasonably north of average. This 18 year expression falls into that range.

The sherried nose is quite nice even though I started to detect a hint of fatigue. Nevertheless the dark chocolate, mocha coffee and strong almond figs make for a decent bouquet of aromas. There are also subtle woody mint overtones. But all of this is rounded off by a peculiar egg yolk note which I can only attribute to sulphur.

The palate is a swirl of honey and maple syrup sprinkled with chocolate rum raisins and finished off with a pinch of banana cinnamon.

The only draw back in this expression is the finish as it leaves a cloying sulphury after taste which is quite dry.

Rating: 87

Yamazaki 12

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Distillery/Brand: Suntory Yamazaki
Region: Japan
ABV: 43%
Colour: Gold

Nose: 23
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
This particular bottle of the Yamazaki 12 was opened well over a year ago and has not only maintained it’s elegance but become a little more mature as well. For example it’s not as floral as I remember it to be.

The nose is an essay in poised elegance. Wild red berries covered in black peppercorns are drizzled with vanilla infused honey. There is a pinch of sea salt with a lonely cardamom pod surrounded by delicate wood shavings.

The dry palate is creamy chocolate dates sprinkled with nuts and raisins and finished with a flourish of cinnamon mist.

The finish is long and satisfying with a touch of spice and slices of banana.

This malt has grown in stature the last time I tasted a year ago. Either that or my feeble mind was simply unable to comprehend a good malt when it tasted one. In any case I’m glad I decided to revisit this gem.

Rating: 92