This 12 year old whisky from Yamazaki first came onto the US market in 1984 and was the first seriously marketed Japanese single malt whisky here in the United States. The Japanese have been making whisky since the 19th century, but their first commercial endeavors began with the opening of the Yamazaki distillery in 1923. Masataka Taketsuru, Yamazaki’s first distillery executive, had studied the craft of distilling in Scotland, and his style of whisky closely mimics the traditional Scottish styles. The Yamazaki 12 is made with just barley, water and yeast, and is aged in a combination of American, Spanish and Japanese oak barrels.
The Yamazaki 12 pours a dark golden brown, darker than many other 12 year old whiskeies. The nose is well malted, and has hints of dried fruits, warm honey and butterscotch. The taste is quite dry, with an almost astringent quality, paired with hints of vanilla, citrus zest, caramelized toffee and just a hint of oak. The finish is long and has hints of spices with a little more of that astringency lingering in the background.
The Yamazaki 12 is an outstanding whisky, especially if looking for an introduction into Japanese or Scotch Whisky. A 750ml bottle will usually run between $40-$50, which is not a bad price for such a great tasting spirit. Cheers!