SMS Classic Review: Yamazaki 12 Year

Today, I’m starting a new series called the Single Malt Savvy Classic Review Series. I did a lot of whisky reviews before I started this website and my backlog of reviews was part of the inspiration behind creating Single Malt Savvy in the first place. These reviews are all pre-2015 and they are unedited from their original form. Some of them are really interesting time pieces. That’s why I chose Yamazaki 12 as the first one in the series. As you’ll soon read, I had no idea the Japanese whisky market was going to blow up the way it did.

Yamazaki 12 Year

Original review from 2012:

Howdy, folks. Today, I’ll be reviewing the Yamazaki 12 year single malt whisky from Japan’s Suntory brewery/distillery. Suntory’s history goes all the way back to 1899, though the Yamazaki Distillery didn’t begin production until 1924. Still, there’s almost a hundred years of history in this distillery and their products show a level of maturity one would expect from its Scottish counterparts. Yamazaki is aged in American, Spanish and Japanese Oak barrels, giving it a unique woody flavor profile. Ok, enough blabbing. On with the review:

Yamazaki 12 Year - 43% ABV
Category Notes
Appearance Golden Amber
Nose Typical oaky vanilla, apples, floral, graininess/cereal, malt. Water surprisingly leaves a lot more cerealness and oak than expected. The fruitiness fades into the background but some dried cherries poke through.
Taste Fresh fruit (apples and pears), vanilla and spices. Water brings out the dried fruits found in a typical fruit and nut mix. Man…the oak doesn’t quit on this one.
Finish An initial blast of pear, followed by a mellow, malty departure. And guess what else? Yep. Wood.
Overall Thoughts Insert “Suntory Time” reference here. I can safely say that this is the best Japanese whisky I’ve ever had. It’s simply a coincidence that it’s also the ONLY Japanese whisky I’ve ever had. If you like woody flavors, this whisky is right up your alley. I had to knock this one down a few points because the nose is way more complex than the taste. My local liquor store carries the Yamazaki 18 year, but the price tag ($120ish) makes it pretty easy to pass on. Maybe someday I’ll bite the bullet and go for it as I’ve heard that it blows the 12 year out of the water. For now, the 12 year satisfies my “token Japanese whisky” slot in my collection.
Total Score 83/100