Yamazaki 1984-2009, 48%

A while ago I traded a sample with whisky buddy BP. He’s a fanatic of Japanese whisky and kindly offered a dram of Yamazaki 1984. Knowing how good Yamazaki can be, and the rarity of the stuff at the moment, I wasn’t one to decline such generosity.

When this Yamazaki was released in 2009 I already found it too expensive for my budget. It was released for 100,000 Yen, which translates to about € 765 at the moment. About three times as much as I’m willing to shell out if something truly epic comes along. I prefer to spend less than that.

At the moment, according to Whiskybase the retail value is little over € 3000, although it sold at an auction a year ago for just over € 2000. Anyway, let’s keep it at the fact that it’s expensive.

The 1984 vintage was released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Yamazaki brand and is made up of mostly Japanese Oak, also known as Mizunara (or Quercus Crispula if you want to get overly specific). The oak used makes this a truly special blend, even though a lot of Yamazaki is aged in that type of wood. It is not often that it is promoted that much and even the Bowmore Mizunara cask wasn’t solely made up of this kind of wood.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

This quite the aromatic whisky. I didn’t even put my nose near the glass and it’s already making itself known. There’s sherry but not in a heavy way. There quite a lot of oak but not too much. I also get cherries and peaches, sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar and old oak. Leather wax, furniture polish, leather, chalk. Somehow I am also getting Vinsanto, mint and almonds.

The palate is dry and intense. Lots of oak and very bitter. Sherry, the juice of tinned peaches. Quite syrupy. Thick, aged balsamic vinegar with menthol and almond. Slightly fatty with leather and wax.

The finish suddenly has a lot more fruit with cherries, blackberries, apples. Also plum wine and some spices. Pretty long.

Luckily, I like bitter flavors. As in, I can drink absinthe and enjoy it. So the bitterness of this whisky is not a problem for me, and I actually love it because of it. My wife didn’t, even though she was thrilled with the nose on the dram.

Apart from the bitterness, this is a big whisky with loads of flavors and nuances. Quite layered too and I can understand this kind of stuff going for huge amounts of money. It’s insanely good.

While I won’t recommend getting a bottle, that’d be ridiculous, I do recommend trying a dram of it if you get the chance. It’s worth quite a bit of money.


Yamazaki 1984-2009, 48%. Check for it in auctions, or buy a car. You can do either for the amount of money you’ll be slinging around.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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