Yamazaki 12 was one of the first Japanese whiskies to grab the world’s attention. And it did it in a big way. It won gold at the International Spirits Challenge in 2003. And Suntory whiskies continue to win gold medals in major competitions every year since.

In the last decade, Japanese whiskies have come on very strong. Their growth is amazing when you consider that Japanese distilleries did not begin exporting their products until the late nineties. Which is surprising since the Japanese have been making whisky for almost 100 years.

Yamazaki is one of Suntory’s great single malts. The Suntory distillery is in a valley outside Kyoto, in rich farmland. The area was chosen for the quality of the water. In fact, it is said that the legendary tea master Sen no Rikyū built his tearoom in this area because the water was perceived to be the finest in Japan.

Japanese whiskeys are sweeter and more fragrant than their overseas counterparts, with even the most peaty varieties still balanced. The 12-Year Yamazaki Single Malt has the robust butteriness of a classic bourbon, the gentle smokiness of an island Scotch and just a hint of the bright astringency typical of many Irish whiskies.

The Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky 12yr

Producer: Suntory Distilling Company

Origin: Japan

ABV: 43.0%

Price Range: $$$$

Awards: San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2005, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16; Beverage Testing Institute 2006 (93) 2013 (92); Wine Enthusiast 2011 (91) 2015 (90)

Website: http://www.suntory.com/

Tasting Notes —

Color: pure gold

Nose: peach, pineapple, grapefruit, clove, candied orange, vanilla, Mizunara (Japanese oak)

Palate: coconut, cranberry, butter

Finish: sweet ginger, cinnamon, long finish


Price Guide:

$$$$$ = Greater than $100
$$$$   = $80 – 100
$$$     = $50 – 80
$$       = $30 – 50
$          = Less than $30

Further Ratings & Reviews

There are many websites and blogs that do an excellent job of reviewing and rating whiskies. As mentioned above The Whiskybits Composite Score is based on an average of at least three reviews conducted by industry leaders. The reviews sites normally referenced include The LA Whisk(e)y Society, The Whisky Reviewer, Proof 66, The Whisky Advocate and The Whisky Jug.