This single cask from Yamazaki stood there, on The Whisky Exchange’s website in 2008, staring me in the eye. You know, back in the day where a hundred bucks could buy you good Japanese whisky, from all over the spectrum. Karuizawa to Yamazaki, Hanyu to Yoichi. How things have changed.
Back in those days I stocked up on the stuff, almost solely for drinking purposes. The only reason I still have some is because I’m careful with it, and in those days I was already buying much more than I could drink.
This particular bottle was opened rather quickly after it arrived home but I just spent more than 6 years emptying it. Yes, some of the fierceness of the whisky goes away, but in most cases the flavor stays just fine. Whisky is a strong spirit in more than one sense.
Fun thing is that I only bought it after Jim Murray rated it 95 points in his bible. Nowadays I don’t buy those anymore, but from a financial perspective it would be a smart thing. I wish, in hindsight, I bought a case of those Yamazaki Sherry Cask thingies from 2013.
Anyway, the whisky. Heavily Peated Yamazaki is not something you come across every day. This makes for an all the more interesting bottle in my opinion. Not necessarily the peat since that can stay or go for all I care. Mostly because the guys in Japan have stepped outside their comfort zone for this bottling and I like that. Also because they did so before the astronomical rise of popularity of peated whisky. Admitted, Supernova and Octomore were around by then, but nowhere near as popular as that stuff is now.
It starts with a strong scent of drying grass and straw. Heather too, and of course quite a lot of smoke. There’s peat too, but the smoke is stronger. Quite a lot of oak (it’s Japanese after all), white oak. I’m also getting drying limes. The kind you leave on the kitchen bench too long. There’s something sweet too, like lemon cake, and pencil shavings, lead and all.
The palate is still quite tingling and hot and probably still sits pretty close to the original 62%. White and black pepper. Sweet, spicy, heather, straw, hay. Some vanilla too but not in an omnipresent way. A deep flavor that goes towards wet forest with moss on trees and such.
The finish mellows quickly, just like yesterday’s Miyagikyo. Again there’s that faint whiff of vanilla, but that’s quickly overpowered by white and black pepper again. Grass, licorice maybe? Hay and moss again.
This is good whisky. Really, really good. Maybe not 95 points good, but still a five star dram in my book. The peat is strong but well integrated and there’s enough typical Japanese-ness to differ sufficiently from Scottish peated drams. The wet forest, moss and hay flavors are rather Islay in style but done ever so slightly different.
This might not be the thing you’re going for it you like those heavily sherried whiskies from the land of the rising sun, but I sure am glad I found this before it sold out (which happened slower after the Whisky Bible’s release in those days, but still happened).
Great stuff. No samples available anymore. The last drops of this are going to a mate…
Yamazaki 1993-2008, 15yo, 62%, Heavily Peated, Single Cask 3Q70047, ‘The Cask of Yamazaki’ series.