Yamazaki 12 Years Old


I would dare to say that this is the flagship whisky from Suntory. Yamazaki is the oldest true whisky distillery in Japan (1924). The distillery was designed by Masataka Taketsuru for Shinjiro Torii (founder of Suntory). For a long while the Yamazaki 12 was the youngest and most affordable Yamazaki Single Malt available in Europe and the US. That place has now been taken by the Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, but the 12 remains as one of the iconic Japanese single malts expressions. The 18 and 25 year old Yamazaki’s are now getting to a price point well above most budgets so the 12 will probably be the new “18” in terms of how people purchase and drink it.

A lot of people wonder why Japanese whiskies are more expensive than Scottish whiskies at a given age. I am sure there are a lot of factors involved including taxes and trade agreements but one fundamental reason is that whiskies age faster in Japan. By this I mean that the angel’s share is quite a bit more dear at the distilleries in Japan. Due to greater fluctuations in weather in Japan, casks breathe more which causes greater loss of spirits but also faster maturation. So because they lose more spirit faster, they get less whisky after 12 years than a typical Scottish distillery. Well that’s one reason anyway.

Distillery: Yamazaki

Age: 12

Type: Single Malt

ABV: 43%

Price: £65 (£63.89 from Master of Malt)



Pineapples, fruit syrup. Japanese plum candies like from Aji Ichiban. A little bit of new leather like new car smell. A bit of fresh cut grass as well. Slight bit of citrus and apples.


Fresh apples, a bit of pears. Caramel/toffee kicks in toward the end. Sort of like a toffee apple. Sweet and smooth.


Toffee with a bit of cinnamon.



After Thoughts

The Yamazaki 12 is one of my favourites. I am not sure I can really describe it well but it’s just tasty. If you gave it blind to someone they would probably think it was an 18 year old speyside. There’s a lot to like about it and I’m always in the mood for a dram of it. The only bad thing about it is that the price has gone way up since Jim Murray’s proclamations. I am hoping when all the hufflepuff dies down, retailers will begin selling at a reasonable price.



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