Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #103

YamazakiSuntory Yamazaki 10yo
Japanese Single Malt Whisky

40% abv

The second of three Japanese whiskies I will be having this week. Turning Japanese? I really think so.

Shinjiro Torii founded Yamazaki, the first whisky distillery in Japan, in 1923 in the Yamazaki Valley near Kyoto. As mentioned on Monday, the distillery was supervised by Masataka Taketsuru. The first whiskies released by the company were Shirofuda in 1929, followed by Kakubin in 1937 and Old in 1940.

The extensive research facilities at Yamazaki have spawned a variety of changes at the distillery over the years and has resulted in the fact that the distillery currently has six very different stills, uses various yeasts, heating and maturing methods. The benefit is that Yamazaki has the ability to make a variety of styles for its blended whiskies. Because of the innovations in technique, Yamazaki is viewed as a truly Japanese whisky, rather than a traditional, Scottish-style distillery like Yoichi (Hokkaido).

Suntory is the largest company in the world of Japanese whisky. They have a very large grain distilling capacity and distill malt with pot stills at three distilleries: Hakushu (1973), Hakushu Higashi(west) (1981), and Yamazaki (1923). They produce many blended whiskies, as well as the premium blended whisky called Hibiki (that comes in stylish bottles).

Japanese malts used to be limited to a very limited foreign market, but now Suntory whiskies are exported to 25 countries. In 2006, they released Premium Soda, soda water sourced from Yamazaki and intended for use in a whisky and soda. Their visitor centre, where, among other things, you can taste the difference between whisky distilled in direct and indirect fired stills, won Whisky Mag's Visitor Centre of the Year 2006.

Suntory also has a great advertising tradition for their products.
Great old advert HERE (not exactly advocating responsible drinking), high-art advertising HERE(Kurosawa and Coppola), Sean Connery making a great face HERE, and a classic Suntory-related moment HERE (Lost in Translation)

More on Suntory and Japanese whisky at The Whisky Pages


Cherry pie, sugar powder necklaces, children's Tylenol, paint/emollient oils. Some spice. Synthetic fruit flavours and creamy vanilla, Italian fruit-and-cream hard candies.

Soft oak, vanilla, pleasant oily mouthfeel. Cinnamon. Oil flavours develop, but now nuts and sesame oil (not the toasted Chinese kind).


Lively and appetising on the nose, really wakes you up... and that is not only because it is morning. Sensuous mouth feel with rounded edges, and bit of spice. Not a lot of development, but pleasant the whole way along.

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