The Yamazaki 25 years is a premium member of the Suntory range (topped by a 35yo and a 50yo that’s worth € 9.500), with only around 12.000 bottles available each year. This expression appeared in 1999.
Although the 2010 batch I’m trying today is probably not the batch that won the prize for best single malt in the World Whiskies Awards 2012, I’m still eager to find out what’s so special about this particular Yamazaki. It has an amazingly dark colour.
Yamazaki 25 yo (43%, OB +/- 2010)
Nose: a great showcase of sherry aromas, especially figs poached in red wine, cooked plums and red fruit jam. Cocoa. Some roasted notes, hints of smoke even, and warm leather. Faint herbal notes and an oriental sandalwood note. Thick, jammy, very lovely.
Mouth: ouch. Hints of dried fruits at first, but it’s quickly overtaken by a deep sourness of oak, balsamic vinegar and cigar juices. Nice spicy notes though (especially cinnamon). Something of bitter oranges and over-infused rosehip tea. Sour cherries. Quite high on tannins as well. Tobacco. Impressive intensity for a relatively low alcohol volume, but too woody and sour.
Finish: long. Plenty of sourness from the oak (rather than an oaky dryness).
Could it be that the recent batch is better? Yes, of course. But I’m afraid it’s another example of an award-winning whisky marred by batch variation and the lack of clear communication about the winning batch (Whisky Magazine even enhances it by linking to a very lukewarm review of the 2006 batch from the award pages). Yamazaki doesn’t seem to have consistent bottling codes by the way. Between € 450 (Swedish Systembolaget) and € 750 (European stores) but it seems to be out of stock everywhere.