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Nose: Heavy rich maple candy, vanilla, dates.
Palette: Thinner than I've heard in reviews. Not nearly as mouth coating as the Tobermory 15. Quite thin by comparison and also quite rudimentary, even though the whisky is nearly flawless in its simplicity. Flavors of sherry saturated wood with a sense of the age of the wood coming through, vanilla, maple, rose water, very faint leather.
Finish: Nice but not terribly long. Satsuma tangerine, hints of maple sugar, fine bourbon, raisins, vanilla.
This whisky is quite good but overpriced in Oregon. It's not worth $200 a bottle. I paid $22 for a glass. I would pay up to $120 perhaps if it was summertime for this whisky. It seems like a much better warm weather whisky than cold. I did not add water and it did not need any. I don't regret buying the glass, even though it did not measure up to the reviews that I've read.
Summary: This whisky is nearly flawless in terms of quality, but it lacks the depth and complexity of the best Scottish whiskies. Yes, Yamazaki 18 is overrated, generally speaking, but still quite deliciously splendid and splendidly delicious.
I would venture to say this whisky is "Zen-like" in the purity of its vision as a created work of art; however, it is does not have the raw power of genius that can materialize as if by magic in a cask, as a testament to serendipity and the "gut instinct" of some master distillers that are able to capture a deep, cavernous sense of three dimensions that bridges the gap between the imagination, the brain and the tastebuds.
By way of contrast, Yamazaki feels calculated in its near perfection. The reed bends where steel blade can break.
Let it wash over your palette without consciously over analyzing the experience. The strength of Yamazaki is in the way it orchestrates your sense of smell, taste, and mouth feel effortlessly and without the bombast and bravado that can be Scotland and the whisky from a land of ice and fire.