The Yamazaki 12

THE last time I tried a whisky from Japan it was the excellent Nikka From The Barrel, a fabulous blend from the the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries.
    However, while I was enjoying that particular whisky, I also had my eye on a bottle of Yamazaki 12, a single malt from Suntory's Yamazaki Distillery - the oldest distillery in Japan - and I finally picked up a bottle last month. Now, with only a few drams left, I thought I had better write down my thoughts before the bottle runs dry.
    Japanese whisky is becoming much more noticeable and easier to get hold of these days, with a marked increase in retailers stocking the country's varied range of both blends and single malts. In my opinion, every time a bottle rolls off a production line in Japan, everyone involved should give thanks and a polite bow to Shinjiro Torii who, inspired by Scottish whisky, founded the Yamazaki distillery in Kyoto, north of Osaka in 1923.
    The product is beautifully packaged and I love the shape and colour of the bottle - the glass has been slightly smoked which I really like - but it's the quality of the whisky that really stands out.
    On the nose, there's a lot going on and it's a whisky which keeps evolving the longer you leave it to settle in the glass - I have spent up to 20 minutes just smelling the mouthwatering aromas. There's orange, fresh cut grass, green bananas, cherries, spearmint, ginger snap biscuits and a heap of botanical notes. There's also a herbal, sappy scent, which I can only imagine comes from the Japanese oak - mizunara - which is used in the whisky's maturation. It's simply amazing and gives the spirit a unique character which is quite different from Scottish whisky.
   When I finally get round to tasting the Yamazaki 12, there's the sweetness of runny honey, aniseed, warming spices, vanilla and dry wood, while the finish has a slight biscuity taste and that lovely herbal note returns to round off a perfect mouthful.
    The Yamazki 12 is simply magnificent and although priced around £45, it's worth taking a closer look at. I'll definitely be buying another bottle soon and I'm also eager to try the 18, although at closer to £100, I might have to start saving.


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