Yamazaki 12 yo

We live in a beautiful yet competitive world, where every battle must have a winner. One winner, right?

Source: distillery website

Remember the Battle of the Nations? Bruichladdich 1998 Manzanilla (Scotland), Bushmills 16 yo Triple Wood (Ireland), Blanton’s Gold Edition (America) and Yamazaki 12 yo (Japan) lined up to try and humiliate each other and make their nations proud. Bruichladdich failed and is now out of the competition. So is Bushmills that did not deliver on the palate what was advertised on the nose. Blanton’s, however, we found faultless. It made a huge impression on us, to the point where we are considering buying a bottle. Given the price tag of over £50, this is some serious impact, don’t you think?

In our Battle of the Nations there is but one contestant left, and now only she can challenge Blanton’s Gold Edition and reach for the trophy. We shall see.

Yamazaki distillery was built in 1923 in Shimamoto, Osaka, and is the oldest whisky distillery in Japan. The climate in that part of the country is ideal for maturation, mild and humid. Their standard international range includes a 12 and an 18 yo, but a value-for-money 10 yo is also readily available in the UK.

Now you’re talking…

Nose: My nose is still 4-5 inches from the rim of the glass and I already know I’m going to like what’s in there. Preconception? I don’t think so. Even from such a distance it’s sweet, forceful and elegant. I stick my sizable hooter in one of those fancy Spiegelau snifters they gave us and I’m enchanted. Werther’s Original, almonds, lemon sorbet and layers over layers of honey. It’s all wrapped up beautifully with hints of biscuits.

Palate: Marzipan on the entry, more honey and notes of dried damson plums. Mouth-watering and juicy yet still mellow and light. Gorgeous.

Finish: Refined is the word. Best thing about this whisky by a mile, slightly bitter and considerably oaky with delicate rays of smoke shining through. It develops forever, then you think it’s gone… and it bursts out again. Unchallenged.

Overall: It is powerful and polite, sophisticated yet down to earth. It has all the characteristics of a much older whisky.

I like it immensely and I expect a bottle for my birthday, unless my friends decide to buy me Black Bowmore, in which case I’ll just splash out on Yamazaki myself. At around £35 it may not be a bargain of the year but it’s worth it.

And it’s the price that convinces me that Yamazaki 12 yo is my winner of the Battle. I can realistically think of purchasing a bottle and for the price difference between this and Blanton’s I can also get myself a bottle of Laphroaig 10 yo for good measure. And that’s my official plan now if anyone asks.


Yamazaki 12 yo is available from thewhiskyexchange.com for £34.99
We would happily pay: £30


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