July brings monsoon rains, vacations and often a slightly slower pace of life… and yet this month still had a rather admirable set of whisky tasting experiences. And even though technically only 1 of our 3 Mumbai whisky tasting groups “officially” met, somehow gatherings over a dram still happened… read on…
There is no question that Japan, and specifically Suntory, has produced some exquisite whiskies over the years. Yamazaki holds a core place in Japanese whiskies rise in global prominence.
In recent years the Yamazaki 2016 Sherry has auctioned for as much as EUR 1,950! To then think of what a 25 year old can attract? This particular whisky is an official bottling and my whisky companions and I shared a small sample in April 2018.
(Image Master of Malt)
Yamazaki 25 year Sherry Cask 43%
Colour – Incredibly dark – almost unbelievable
Nose – Varnish, old wood, dark fruits, stewed plums, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, Christmas cake, enriched spices of nutmeg, butter cream, coriander
Palate – Very sweet, spices, very dry, more of the star anise, some dark juicy fruits or berries, a little cocoa
Finish – Long, solid with some bitter tannins
Water – One would ordinarily think at 43% the addition of water would be a crime. In this case, with such a concentrated flavours, it helped to open up the whisky in the most marvellous way
Overall it was a brilliant whisky – rich, complex, intense. And one well worth sampling if you happen to be so fortunate to come across it.
I will admit that most Yamazaki’s I’ve enjoyed were long before I started to record tasting notes and most certainly before prices rose astronomically. However here are two Yamazaki‘s that stand out which I had the pleasure of sampling in the last few years:
Whisky Live’s Collector’s Room was such a terrific experience at the Singapore 2016 event. I couldn’t wait to see what treasures would be available to purchase a small dram…
However it was quite the scaled back version… no delightful fully separate “Collector’s Room“. Instead it was a simple bar area with a row of whiskies on offer. Those we considered started at SGD80 a glass… we decided to try two and share… it was not an easy decision.
My companion settled on:
Yamazaki 12 year (1996/2009) Cask No AX70012 Sherry Butt 60% (Whisky Live Japan 10 year anniversary edition)
Nose – Sherry explosion… one even said headache inducing
Palate – Almost overwhelming, woody, spice, all the dark fruits, black cherry, phenomenal
Finish – What a fabulous finish!
Water – Opens it up further, bringing balance
It was truly intense, dense, rich and almost on the edge of being too… everything! Remarkable, unforgettable and worth trying… once.
Nose – Peat, sour, overripe fruit, a bit of varnish, old and musty, then these darker qualities dissipated to be replace instead by vanilla, bananas, an almost briney quality that then became quite sweet
Palate – Spice, peat, sweet and much softer than anticipated from the nose
Finish – Long peat, sweet and spicy finish
We remarked on how very different it was from the Caol Ila style of today.
After our rather interesting evening exploring Rampur from India, Royal Lochnagar 12 year and the remarkable aged grain Girvan 28 year…. we had an opportunity to pick anything from our hosts floor to ceiling whisky cupboard…
Nose – Cheese, lemon miringue pie, light peaches or crisp apples, simple
Palate – Exceedingly smooth, very drinkable, think custard, hint of ginger, light citrus, fresh and clean
Finish – Short, sweet, a little spicy, simple yet pleasing
Our immediate reaction is this would pair well with a cheese and fruit platter – think a nice range of old cheddar and applies. Or desert – something light not heavy. Or even an arugula salad with blue cheese and caramel walnuts.
I brought the glass with us for the dinner… our desert was a baked lagan nu custard. And the Toki paired with it? perfection! Just the right interplay between the different elements and an ideal way to close the evening.