Japan’s oldest commercial whisky distillery will make only its fourth limited edition release on June 10, when the Yamazaki 2017 launches through online Japanese whisky specialists Dekantā.
Founded just south of Kyoto (200802) in 1923, the Yamazaki distillery is renowned for its multi-award-winning single malts as well as for producing a key component of the lauded Hibiki blend. The precise details of this latest collectable release (£218 for 70cl, available for pre-order now), as is traditional, remain shrouded in secrecy. All Yamazaki will disclose is that the hotly anticipated 2017 is a blend of young single malts aged in American oak and ex-bourbon barrels, with single malts aged over 20 years in a mix of European oak, sherry and port wine casks.
This complex mix of components – a hallmark of Japanese whisky making – is clear from the colour alone: a deep amber with hints of green and copper. On the nose it is intense, with sweet toffee, sultana and biscuit, along with more savoury, tangy sherry and cured-meat characters. And in the mouth it is as chewy as a fig roll, with dried mango, peach skin and musky honey-spread toast. The finish is lively, with cracked pepper and a touch of anise, and overall it’s got that classic Yamazaki combination of complexity and uncomplicated deliciousness.
Yamazaki owner Suntory is remaining tight-lipped about the number of bottles being released, but has said that the 2017 is bottled at 43 per cent and will come in a bottle clad in special, limited edition packaging. Dekantā also lists every previous Yamazaki Limited Edition right back to the first release in 2014, and those wanting to complete their collection can buy the 2014, 2015 and 2016 as a set (£972). The site also lists the famous Yamazaki 50-year-old single malt, which claimed a Guinness World Record for the most expensive standard-format bottle in history when one sold at a Hong Kong spirits auction for just over $129,000 in October 2016. The 50-year-old 2005 release is currently available at an eyewatering £107,267.