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Suntory Yamazaki 12 Year Old

Date Night 2: Cherry Blossoms

0 1281

@SquidgyAshReview by @SquidgyAsh

28th Apr 2012

0

  • Nose
    22
  • Taste
    20
  • Finish
    19
  • Balance
    20
  • Overall
    81

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Now my wife and I are finally on our way to Helvetica the whisky bar that we've been trying to go to for months now. We're excited, myself more then her. We're going to meet my brother and sister in law at Helvetica as they're leaving work and grabbing dinner before joining us.

The city is alive as we walk from the restaurant where we started the evening with some italian and Glenfarclas 12 yr old.

We walk into Helvetica. It's this a little hole in the wall in a part of the back alley and doesn't look like much as we walk in. Then everything changes.

A wall of sound hits us as we walk in and our immediately surrounded by drinkers starting their night out, but what hits me the most is the sight of dozens and dozens of good whisky bottles! This should be a good night!!

My wife and I grab a couple seats in the corner and she sits down as I head to the bar for our first drink. Now I know what we're starting the night with, but my wife doesn't. Blind tastings for my lovely wife all night.

The first whisky of the evening is one that my wife has been wanting to try for months now. The Yamazaki 12 yr old. She's been extremely eager to try it as she's curious how the japanese whiskies are different then the american whiskies and scotch.

However I won't tell my wife won't she's tasting until afterwords because as my wife says she sometimes decides in advance if she thinks she'll like something or not. So blind we go!

I bring the tulip glass with the Yamazaki 12 yr old back to our table and offer it to my wife. She smells and goes "Smells like what I think cherry blossoms smell like"

We hand it back and forth between the two of us, each nosing and describing what we smell. I also get something along the lines of cherry blossoms or what I would imagine a nice walk through the woods in Japan on a nice spring day with the cherry blossoms blooming.

As we continue to nose we get oak, butter, vanilla, a huge hit of cherry blossoms or some sort of floral and a hint of alcohol tinge. This is a different whisky from what we're used to.

We then drink. I hand the glass to my wife for the first drink and she comes back with "very dry, lots of oak" I take a sip and I get the oak and the dryness, then we start getting a hint of honey and vanilla, but the oak seems to have a strong presence on the tongue. It's not unpleasant, but this is definitely a whisky I'm going to have to be in the mood for.

My wife looks at me and tells me that she doesn't care for this whisky and what whisky is this. She looks very surprised when I tell her that this is the Yamazaki 12 yr old and looks a bit disappointed.

The finish is long, but with quite a bit of oak and quite a bit of unpleasant bitterness.

The Yamazaki 12 yr old isn't a bad whisky, but at the going rate of $100 bucks AUS per bottle it's not value worth money for me. I'd prefer a bottle of Talisker 10 yr old or Macallan 12 yr old Fine Oak for cheaper.

Next whisky on the block is the Hakushu 12 yr old! I'm hoping this will be a little bit better.

Related Suntory Yamazaki reviews

12 comments

@NilsG
NilsG commented

It was interesting you said it's s whisky you need to be in the mood for. I feel the same, although I think I mean that in a more positive way. Have you tried it again after the reviewed occasion? This is one of the whiskies I've had the most times (being one of my favourites). But I've had quite varying experience from time to time. For me, and I guess for most people, my mind set and just the condition of my palate at the time have a significant effect on how much I enjoy a dram. But it seems the Yamazaki 12 has the greatest variation when it comes to "mood of the day" effect. Even going to the very same bottle just a couple of days apart can deliver different sensations.

Now, Yamazaki 12 is a whisky that feel emotionally connected too, so it would be strange if my mood didn't play a part. But I wonder if there aren't whiskies that by nature require a certain mind set to be appreciated fully. Although being one if my favs, I sometimes haven't been able to enjoy Yamazaki as much as I know I can.

7 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh commented

@NilsG My friend I actually haven't managed to try this whisky again since this review. It is however on my to do list! It wasn't boring at all and I would be curious to see whether my palate has changed, different expectations, etc. I'm almost positive that there will be a different experience there.

As for whiskies that you have to be in a certain mindset to fully enjoy I honestly think there are, also that some whiskies will set a mood I personally believe.

One of my favorites, a private bottling by Abbey Whisky, their 40 yr old Secret Speyside, for me always makes me feel deeply content and relaxed. Sounds stupid, but almost like a little kid. Whereas I find a big Islay will leave me feeling deep and contemplative, or a nice sexy bourbon will put me in a more relaxed, content with the world kinda mood.

Not sure if that made sense at all, but I hope it did!

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

It makes perfect sense! Again this is something that whisky has in common with music (I always say whisky and music are almost one and the same, just approaching different senses).

There are songs that you have to be in the mood for, and others that will set the mood for you. Some music can be very difficult to appreciate if you don't first have learned to appreciate some intermediate form of it.

I think Ardbeg 10 is a whisky that I could have in any mood, and any particular thing on my mind, good or bad, would just be peated out of there. There can be a zen like aspect to drinking whisky.

7 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh commented

NilsG I completely agree my friend! Some whiskies as music suck you into a place. Some of them are so contemplative plus almost a wee bit sad that you sit there and go "I could drink this as the world ended" and some of them take you to a happy feel good place, some to a place where everything makes sense and honestly some take you to a place where nothing makes sense.

I completely agree that both music and whisky do the same sort of things just to different senses. It's one of the greatest things about both! Even more I personally believe that there are some whiskies out there, as with some music, that forever change the way you view the world. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into my passion....:D

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@NilsG, perhaps you will write some music to express Ardbeg 10, and @Squidgy, perhaps you will compose a Limeburners' Serenade. If you guys don't write/compose music, maybe you should!

Thousands of whiskies, thousands of opportunities to express them through music...why look for someone else's idea of how to express them...do it yourself!

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

@Victor In fact I'm working on a tune (electronic dance music) that started out as being inspired by the story of Rita Taketsuru (the Scottish woman who married Masataka Taketsuru, father of Japanese whisky). Was gonna call it "Rita", however the way it has developed it's lost all connection to her story and gone a different direction. I wouldn't say it has anything to do with whisky anymore.

But Ardbeg 10 is a good idea, it would be easier to stick to the idea...hard peat(beat), intense pads and a deep driving bass. The trick would be to make a synth with a sound wide and at the same time crisp enough to represent the Ardbeg.

7 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

@NilsG I like your whisky-music-relation a lot :)

@Victor maybe because composing isn't that easy haha. It's not like you can sit down there without any experience and write a good song. But ofc anybody should feel free to try this. As I know you did and I appreciate this a lot!

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Wills, the beauty with composing music is that you don't have to reveal your tune/piece to others until YOU are satisfied that it IS good. You don't succeed until you try. Like everything else, it gets easier with practise.

Composing music and blending whisky are just alike in this regard: you work on it, and tweak it until you are satisfied with it, and success ia most strongly dependent upon your having very good taste in deciding what sounds/tastes good and interesting. If your taste is very good, many others will like what you like. John Glaser, for example, has excellent taste.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

@Victor Very true. Unfortunately I don't have good music taste, so I won't quit my day job. What kind of music are you into?

This discussion has drifted far away from Yamazaki 12 lol

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

First, a comment about Yamazaki 12: my current bottle always tastes to me like bananas, which I find fascinating and strangely attractive. Previous samples of Yamazaki 12 didn't seem to suggest that so strongly. Oxidation seems to have made my bottle of Yamazaki 12 a lot drier and "dustier"(whatever that means, exactly), in the direction of the 'bitter' which you describe.

As to writing music: as in whisky, I have a very broad and eclectic taste. The music I have written has been chamber music, but I do have a country music style song in the works, if I ever get around to finishing it. Sounds kinda like a Dolly Parton style song. The whisky interest has been stronger in me recently than the desire to express musically. It's been about 4 years since I wrote my last new piece.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

@Victor Same here, joining connosr kind of interrupted me in the middle of a music production phase (we EDM guys don't call ourselves writers or composers, but producers). But this thread had me get my thumb out and yesterday i finally completed the mastering of mentioned song. Now onto the Ardbeg 10 project.

Chamber music ey, that's something else! I assume you also participated in performing too, what do you play? I played the violin as a kid (on my grampa's firm request, cause he built them), but gave that up for electronic gadgets.

Sorry SquidgyAsh for using your review as a music forum lol! To compensate I will have some Yamz 12 tonight and try to find that banana.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

Yup, banana!

7 years ago 0

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