Ever since I tasted my first Japanese whisky, the Taketsuru 17, I’ve been a fan of the barley distillates of the land of the rising sun. I tasted that Taketsuru right after I bought it in 2007. Back then it was the most expensive whisky I had ever bought at € 70. Right now, a Japanese whisky at that price would be on the cheaper end of the spectrum, ever they started rising the prices in accordance with Scotland.
Anyway, Yoichi is one of the more prominent disitlleries in the country, toghether with Yamazaki and since it’s price hikes and media hype, Karuizawa. Ah, the days you could see a Karuizawa 32 year old pop up on The Whisky Exchange, at € 125. You could still drive home to think about it and order it when you got there. Now you have to pay double or triple and decide in a split second.
Yoichi is up in the high north of Japan, on the island of Hokkaido. While that is still quite a bit south of where we are, it still gets a much colder climate blowing off from the Bering Strait. Also, it is the only remaining distillery that I know of that still runs their stills on coal instead of steam or other indirect heating. This makes for a rather rugged distilling proces which is reflected in the taste. The drawback is that it’s uncomparable of course.
Greasy with oak and smoke. eastern herbs and spices, barbecue. It’s fairly sharp and sweet with rancio (if I have that term right). The scents are rather typical for Yoichi, but I have a hard time naming them. Something fruity too, plum wine or so.
The palate is very sharp (no surprise at 62%). The sweetness rules here as well, with some bitterness from the oak. The plums, smoke and rancio define most of its character.
The finish is a bit more gentle, but still rather fierce. Long and slightly astringent (probably the abv). The plum wine is here too, the smoke somewhat dimished.
Back in the day when I bought this whisky they went for about € 100 or so, and have, of course, increased in price. You’d have to check auctions to find quotes on stuff like this.
Having said that, it’s very much worth it to check for whiskies of this calibre since they’re absolutely gorgeous. This is exactly my style of stuff (as are many others) and I really enjoy the weird flavours only found in Yoichi. Great, great whisky. Bummer it’s almost gone.
Yoichi Single Cask 16, 1991-2007, #129493, 62%. Imported by LMDW, how it got to Holland I don’t know.