The Yamazaki 18 Year Old Single Malt is a Japanese whisky from Suntory, the largest alcoholic beverage makers of Japan. It was first released in 1992, and has been one of the best releases from the Osaka based Yamazaki Distillery.
The 18 Year Old is a part of the Yamazaki core range from Suntory, which includes three other expressions – a no-age-statement single malt, a 12 Year Old and the 25 Year Old. Yamazaki Distillery was the first ever whisky distillery established in Japan, and holds a special place in the Japanese whisky industry.
History of Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky
Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii began the company in 1899 as a small store dealing in wines and other alcoholic beverages. His store was located in Osaka, Japan and garnered much prosperity for Torii. This led to him creating his own brand of fortified wine, the Akadama Port Wine.
Torii chose the name Kotobukiya Company for his company, and wished to establish a whisky distillery in Japan. He sought the help of Masataka Taketsuru, a Japanese chemist with experience of whisky distillation. Torii employed Taketsuru at the Kotobukiya Company to help him build the Yamazaki Distillery in 1923.
Distillation at Yamazaki began in 1924, and five years later, the Suntory Shirofuda (White Label) was launched. It was the first ever whisky distilled, matured and bottled in Japan. Taketsuru left the Kotobukiya Company after a decade, establishing the Nikka Whisky brand.
Torii took the Kotobukiya Company to new heights, launching a few other types of whisky. Marketing played a key role in raising the popularity of Torii’s whisky products in Japan. The name Suntory was chosen to replace Kotobukiya Company in 1963, taking inspiration from the company’s first ever whisky brand.
After Torii passed away, his son and successor, Keizo Saji built the Chita Grain Whisky Distillery in 1972, and the Hakushu Malt Whisky Distillery in 1973. This would enable Suntory to produce more single malt expressions, and even their own blends.
The Yamazaki single malts became accompanied by single malts from Hakushu, and the Hibiki range of blended Japanese whiskies. Thus the Suntory range of Japanese whiskies was diversified, eventually adding the Chita Single Grain whisky and Toki blended whisky to the range.
The Yamazaki 18 Year Old is matured in a combination of barrels for its unique taste. An overwhelming amount of the spirit is matured in Sherry butts, which gives this whisky its signature balance of rich fruit and soft spice.
The remaining portion is matured in both American ex-Bourbon, and Japanese Mizunara Oak barrels. The porous Mizunara Oak is believed to leave an indelible imprint on all whiskies matured in them. The Yamazaki 18 Year Old certainly benefits from having a small portion of its spirit matured in the Mizunara Oak.
The Yamazaki 18 Year Old single malt is bottled at 43% ABV, slightly higher than the standard limit for Japanese whiskies.
Gold Medal at the World Whiskies Awards in the Japanese Single Malt: 13-20 YO category in 2016
Gold Medal at the World Whiskies Awards in the Japanese Single Malt: 13-20 YO category in 2015
Gold Medal at the World Whiskies Awards in the Japanese Single Malt: 13-20 YO category in 2014
Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2007
Rich dried fruits, dense cocoa beans, ripe peaches and soft smoke
Sweet berries. Full-bodied, and incredibly flavourful. Thick chocolaty notes followed by a touch of Mizunara Oak
Spicy and very smooth. Lingering finish with a hint of fruit