Review: Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably heard that The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 is Jim Murray’s latest selection for “Whisky of the Year.” In previous years, this distinction has caused quite a stir among whisky fans. This year, that “stir” has evolved into an all-out frenzy. It immediately sold out in stores worldwide and the price in the secondary market is up to 8 times the original MRSP. That’s the hype machine for ya. There’s enough commentary about this expression’s hype and possible overhype on other websites. I prefer to let the spirit speak for itself.

In any case, I was lucky enough to be able to get a sample of this from the good folks at Master of Malt. This is an NAS release bottled at 48% ABV. As you could probably guess, it’s matured in 100% ex-sherry casks.

Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013

Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 - 48% ABV
Category Notes
Appearance Ruby red. I can't believe how dark this is.
Nose Deep, dark, and rich. Cocoa, raisins, dried cherries, prunes, vanilla, bing cherries, a bit sour (like Sour Patch Kids). With time, more PX sherry sweetness emerges. The chocolate only intensifies with water. After several minutes, a honey note comes to light.
Taste Thick and oily. Lots of cherries, mixed berries, fruity and juicy, cinnamon, subtle oak, raisins, a peppery zing, some vanilla in the background. With water, spicy cooked fruits, dark chocolate, creaminess, caramel brûlée.
Finish Long and lingering. More dried fruits and oak. There's that chocolate again. A lot more spiciness than on the palate. Several seconds later, hints of cherry cough drops. With water, the oak emerges more while keeping that same spice and some toffee. It's a nice combination of flavors.
Overall Thoughts The unfortunately truth is that this whisky will never live up to the hype that has been generated about it. With all the attention this has gotten plus the highly-inflated secondary market value, the expectations for this expression are through the roof. With all that said, this is an excellent whisky. If you like chocolate and cherries, this is right up your alley. This is clearly the Japanese answer to the big thick sherrybombs coming out of Scotland.
Total Score 94/100