Drink Review: Suntory Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve

November 21, 2020
3 mins read

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A fresh and fruity whisky from Yamazaki, full of red fruit and a touch of sherry cask. It’s also got some mizunara (Japanese oak) matured whisky in the mix, which comes through as a complex spicy and almost incense-like note. A well put together and deep dram.

Suntory Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve Review:

12 year, cask type: Mizunara Bin (a Japanese oak barrel), Sancho (un-charred oak), Kilchoman (un-charred oak), Oloroso, Sherry

Colour: Bright golden amber

Nose: Fresh, bright and juicy. A nice fresh bright fruit punch, with green tangerines, slightly dusty nashi pear, some pineapple and a little melon. Something slightly smoky, seemingly from the cask itself.

Taste: Fresh, fruity, with some spice, light mocha coffee and chocolate. Not too hot, with a faint dustiness (i.emizunara) that comes through here and there. A slight bit of waxyness on the back end.

Yamazaki Review:

This is a well balanced and rich smoky whisky with a strong but well balanced fruit and spice taste. It shares some elements with the PONZ 13 year old but is more interesting.

This is the best of the Yamazaki range, as a result of its slightly more pronounced malt complexity and slightly higher proof. There is some faint fatiness here that angers me a little.

A great sherry-cask matured Yamazaki, with complex and light fruit and a smoky, warm depth, almost like incense. The fruit notes are on the lighter side due to the un-charred cask, as is usual in such casks. The palate is beautifully balanced, with an extra touch of strength and mocha on the back end.

Yamazaki Review:

Back for a third go I am afraid. Although the official number ranges from just below 1 million to just under 2 million, I am pretty sure that this is a bottle from the 2 million range or slightly above. It is just many multiples of what you can pay at the moment. It is very unusual in that it has an obvious Japanese influence (the smokiness, mocha, cracked soy sauce, Asian flavours and spices) but it lacks the intensity and depth of the Japanese whisky barrel. Interestingly this is a whisky with mizunara and other higher aged whisky cask, where grown-in-barrel notes kick in, rather than simply having a cask change on a regular basis. However it is gorgeous, complex and well-balanced and fits the price tag.

Yamazaki Review:

This is a quite reasonably priced whisky that is quite tasty. The nose is a little lightly oaked (neat) with some fairly straight grain and some light spice. It is a whisky with a few rough edges to it, but fundamentally it is well-made and fairly well-balanced.

Yamazaki, the model professional, represented by a single cog.

12yo Yamazaki is a blended whisky. It is predominantly sherry matured. This is a “classic” style blend although it is a little heavier in some of the grain notes than standard blends (nose wise). It is also slightly lighter in taste than other blends on the market. All in all it is a very solid whisky, nice and full bodied, with a slight bite and a slightly malty bite on the back end. The finish is perfectly balanced and leaves you with a fruity bittersweet after taste. This is a very good whisky that I would recommend again. It is the type of whisky that I would lose mine to when going to a better night club in town. (note: I have travelled for whisky in New York, Spain, Paris and even Tokyo and LA)

A pre-chill filtered, slightly oaked whisky. The sherry second and third fills it out quite nicely, although its not quite as expressive as the similarly priced Kilchoman. A better buy than Kilchoman but not quite as good as the PONZ.

Yamazaki Review:

I rate the Springbank 15 too highly, but the Yamazaki is a very good whisky and probably more reliable in every way. It is rough, somewhat straight and more earthy than the Springbank. It is also a little sharper in the nose and the burning comes on more gradually. The umami is slightly less concentrated, and the malty and spicy notes do not come through as well. It has a kind of dry earthiness. This whisky may not appeal as much as the Yamazaki Springbank 12, but it is a very good whisky all the same. It is the type of whisky that I would drink first in a social setting as it is a much more “reliable” whisky. It has not quite the punch and intensity of the Springbank, but it is a very good (not quite as good as the Springbank 12, but very good), drinkable whisky.

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