Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Whisky review: Yamazaki 18

The Yamazaki (or Slamazaki, as I like to call it for no good reason) is the only single malt out of Japan that's readily available in the United States. They make 12-year-old and 18-year-old versions; I got a miniature bottle of the 12-year-old when I was somewhat new to whisky and didn't think much of it, though I've been meaning to revisit it now that I have some more experience and have tried the 18.

The story of Japanese whisky is pretty interesting. A Japanese guy named Masataka Taketsuru went to live in Scotland for a number of years, studied organic chemistry, worked in a number of Scottish distilleries, married a Scottish woman, and then went back to Japan to start the whisky business there. He founded the Nikka whisky company on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan because he believed that area's climate was most similar to Scotland's. Nikka is still a functioning company today, putting out some great whiskies (which are unfortunately not available in the U.S), including a blended malt whisky appropriately named the Taketsuru.

Yamazaki 18, 43% ABV
Single malt Japanese whisky

Appearance: Dark amber

Nose: JUICY FRUIT. Not the brand of gum - the actual fruit...raisins, plums, overripe strawberries. A hint of smoke. Dark rum. Old (but good) wood. Leather. I want to live inside this glass.

Palate: More juicy fruit, but a little lighter - red and yellow apples (very ripe), raspberries. Mint, vanilla. Younger wood than on the nose. Puff of smoke.

Finish: Raisins, sweet sherry, light wood. Fills me with warmth. Still tasting it after several minutes...wow...

Rating (of 100): 97. Definitely going in my top 5 from now on. Buy this whisky. Or move to Japan. Or both.

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