Monday, 1 February 2010

Yamazaki Distillery

Yamazaki Distillery
5-2-1 Yamazaki
Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun

West Honshu, Japan - Active

Flavour profile

Yamazaki whisky is rich, thick, and usually brings together very different flavour elements. The distillery can produce spirit of markedly different styles from its 12 stills, and this diversity of flavours is reflected in the Wordle below. Even so, there are some characteristics that can be picked out quite easily - raisins and peat predominate, followed by sweet-savoury notes of orange peel, roast pork, ginger, palm sugar and... burnt rubber?

The last, chemical, slightly harsh flavour actually represents a family of tastes that are quite subtle, but present in Yamazaki whisky (at least the 4 I have written tasting notes on). These flavours are represented in the Wordle by pepper, ginseng, cayenne pepper, bitter melon and fish sauce - bitter, savoury flavours. I do feel that every time I taste a Yamazaki (even one I have tasted before) I find a new and unusual flavour to add to the list. Yamazaki whisky is complex, subtle, and unusual. Oh yes, and delicious too.

All the Yamazakis I've tasted so far are here.

SMWS 119.10 -very good
Yamazaki 10 yo - good
Yamazaki 18 yo - very good
Yamazaki 12 yo - good

Distillery history

The distillery is the first whisky distillery to be established in Japan. It was established in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, a wine maker, as part of Torii Shoten, a canned goods and liquor business founded in 1899 that would eventually become Suntory. The distillery has 12 stills (6 linked pairs) of different shapes, and can produce several different styles of spirit.

Yamazaki single malt first became available in 1984. There are fairly widely available official bottlings available aged 10, 12, 18 and 25 years old. In addition there are the rare 25 and 30 year old official bottlings, and a number of vintage, specially aged expressions. Independently bottled Yamazaki isn't common, but does exist.

Potted distillery facts

Water source: Rikyu-no-Mizu, natural spring near the distillery on Mount Tennozan
Douglas fir and stainless steel
Wash stills:
Six, differently shaped.
Spirit stills: Six, differently shaped.
Spirit still Lyne arm: Pair 1 - slanted sharply downward
Production per year:
approximately 3,500,000 litres

- courtesy of Google, compiled by Red Hare late at night

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