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Suntory Yamazaki 18 Year Old

Average score from 16 reviews and 55 ratings 90

Suntory Yamazaki 18 Year Old

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@huineman
Suntory Yamazaki 18 Year Old

Tasted at the now-extinct Sudestada restaurant in Madrid. Dark amber hue with golden shades. Intense aroma starts sweetish: butterscotch, vanilla, custard; then sandalwood, pencil lead, smokey. Nose is quite close to a brandy, if you ask me. Mouthfeel is velvety and silky, very elegant. Umami (savory) nuances. Oily, mouth-covering, developing a very long finish in which you get cocoa and smoke again. Very, very good.

@huineman, thank you for your review.

Very elegant, indeed. I haven't seen a Yamazaki 18 yo on the shelves for about 4 or 5 years now. In 2012 I could buy this for $ 130. Now wine-searcher.com reports the average world price to be $ 600. I am very happy to have tasted Yamazaki 18 several times. I would certainly rate it into the 90s. The only consideration I have now leaning toward regret about not having purchased a bottle at the then seemingly outrageously high 2012 price of $ 130 is how much of a conversation piece it has become because of its subsequent scarcity and current high asking price.

The last time I saw the Yamazaki 18 YO it was priced at $210...gulp! I passed on it then and I now see indications that it is going for $500 to $600 if you can even find it.

@vrudy6

I dare to say, in my humble opinion... The Yamazaki 18 is the best whisky i've ever had. Ok, now that i have cleared that out of my chest lets move on. The arrival is intense. Waves of vanilla, honey and malt pound first. The sherry, dark chocolate, espresso, nutmeg,chili arrive at mid palate. Then becomes sightly smoky with traces of damp earth. Long,long finish with spices of nutmeg and chili coming through again leaving the chocolate and espresso. All this in epic proportions. Like a harmonious, methodically controlled explosion of an old building being demolished. Absolutely outstanding!

"an old building being demolished" Einsturzende Neubauten whisky! Outstanding! But seriously, I agree completely. One of my all time favorites.

@MaltActivist

Suntory is a powerhouse and even when some of their offerings fall short they still manage to stay reasonably north of average. This 18 year expression falls into that range.

The sherried nose is quite nice even though I started to detect a hint of fatigue. Nevertheless the dark chocolate, mocha coffee and strong almond figs make for a decent bouquet of aromas. There are also subtle woody mint overtones. But all of this is rounded off by a peculiar egg yolk note which I can only attribute to sulphur.

The palate is a swirl of honey and maple syrup sprinkled with chocolate rum raisins and finished off with a pinch of banana cinnamon.

The only draw back in this expression is the finish as it leaves a cloying sulphury after taste which is quite dry.

@SquidgyAsh

Recently I purchased a bottle of Yamazaki 18 year old for my father and mother in laws. They're huge fans of the Yamazaki 12 year old, and I felt that considering how difficult it is to put one's hands on a bottle of the 18 year old, I felt that it would make an awesome Fathers/Mothers Day gift for them.

They were thrilled when they got the bottle and decided that they were going to open the bottle on a special occasion. Fair enough I'd do the same thing.

A month went by and pretty quickly the year anniversary since our family had purchased and run our business was upon us and in honor of that anniversary the family decided to crack the bottle open.

Even better they invited me over for a dram!

When I got to the house they cracked the bottle and poured me a wee dram, that turned out not to be a wee dram. I asked for just a nip and they almost completely filled my glencairn.

Holy crap, that's a lot of whisky!

Definitely too much to have at one time. So I decided to take a nip and bring the rest of it home with me.

Now on my initial taste of the Yamazaki 18 year old, I wasn't very impressed. I didn't enjoy it and sat there wondering why it was such a popular whisky.

What I wound up doing was pouring the glencairn into a couple sample bottles so that my wife and I could share a dram one night and put the bottles onto the shelf and walked away.

Roughly a month went by before I touched those sample bottles, in the meantime when I visited the in laws I noticed that two thirds of their bottle had been drunk.

Well at least they're enjoying it!

Last night I cracked the sample bottle for my wife and I to enjoy after her kickboxing class and our dinner.

Alright here goes, let's see if this whisky really is all that everyone has been telling me it is.

Oak, vanilla, big citrus, vanilla, slightly floral, cinnamon, pears, apples, coffee, sultanas, smoke.

Holy crap that's an AWESOME nose!! The whisky has REALLY opened up in the glass since I first had it. I'm totally loving it and could sit here for hours just nosing it.

Let's see how the palate is doing!

Funky, chocolate, quite oaky, lots of fruit, sultanas, pears, apples, earthy and then slightly spicy, then something definitely funky, I couldn't even begin to describe that flavor, sourish/saltish, what the bloody hell is that!?

Still can't figure out what that odd note, gods that makes me curious.

The finish is very long with fruit and slight spice and smoke.

Well whether it's due to a difference in mood or the whisky opening up in it's sample bottles, but this is a much better whisky then the one that I first tried.

However there is DEFINITELY a funkiness there that I honestly can't decide if I like it or hate it, if it adds or detracts to the whisky.

However all that being said I can see why the Yamazaki 18 is so highly sought after, but still for me I'd have to prefer Hakushu as a Japanese distillery over Yamazaki. Just a personal preference.

However if you're looking for something different and a little funky I do believe that you'd have fun with the Yamazaki 18 yr old.

However it is not a cheap Japanese whisky running an easy $200 to $300 AUS per bottle and being quite difficult to put your hands on at times so do be aware of that if you decide that a bottle would make a good addition to your cabinet or a good present for a friend.

Now all I have to do is figure out what the hell that funkiness was!

@Victor well I have referred to you as a whisky mentor or whisky father before! If you only lived in a place that could receive whiskies boy would you get a surprise on your birthday :D Wait til you see what I bring whenever we finally meet up in real life buddy!

@Systemdown hahaha thanks for that thought! Funny story, the last bottle of whisky that I bought for my brother in law (we don't give gifts to one another, but I knew he'd love it and he'd never spend the money on a bottle) resulted in him purchasing a 60 inch TV for my birthday. I think he was happy so yeah if you're a whisky drinker in my house and it's your birthday I don't think you would have cause or any room for complaint :D

As for the funky note I'll give the remaining sample a taste again tomorrow night when I have a clean palate (have just had 2 beers so no good!) and see if I can identify it. It was very . . . odd. I've only got about 5 to 10 mls of whisky left so not a whole lot of wiggle room for figuring it out sadly.

I agree with your assessment for the most part. The nose is just fantastic! I don't get any funky notes on the palate, it is quite dry and has some bitter orange notes, it works quite well balancing with the richer sherry notes, but the whisky is not one to take my breath away. It strikes me personally as a little to mellow for that experience, though it does have some lively spice. I say very nice whisky but for the $135 I paid, and now pushing $200, it's definitely OVER RATED in my humble opinion. I followed this up with the Glendronach 15 which is definitely a little more wild (peppery) and less refined than the Yamazaki 18, but the flavors are so much more intense and delicious, and at 1/2 to 1/3 the price. I gave Yamazaki 18 a 90, Glendronach 15 a 92. Value scores would be Yamazaki 18 - 75, Glendronach 15 - 92.

@hunggar

I know very little about Japanese whisky. I have enjoyed a dram or two of it on rare occasions, but I have never truly delved into what makes it unique and special. Shame on me. Having reviewed only one blended Japanese release so far, this will be my first review of a single malt from my neighbors to the north. And without giving anything away; this stuff literally blew my socks off. And by literally, I mean figuratively. My socks stayed on. Don’t you hate it when people misuse literally? I’m babbling. Anyway, here are my notes:

Nose: Earthy, with damp peat and deep oak. Leather. The sweetness here is reminiscent of milk chocolate, candied apples, and maple toffee. Wonderful dark fruit notes, like cherries, plum, and black currents, with a bit of orange rind. There are some herbal notes here, most noticeably ginseng. Complex and wonderfully inviting.

Palate: Upon arrival, this whisky presents a smooth and somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Gentle, silky smoke. Tea,ginseng, toffee, dark sherry fruits, plum. All these flavours are almost flawlessly integrated.

Finish: Candied fruit, like caramelized apples and strawberries. Hints of smoke. Maple toffee and rich caramel. Lingering herbal notes. A very long, semi-dry finish with a wonderfully gentle lingering spice.

I suppose what’s most interesting about the Yamazaki 18 is the attention to detail. From the grains to the yeast to the barrel selections and the unique ageing process, there’s nothing here that doesn’t suggest a top-notch production. Seems like everything was chosen and prepared with the highest regard for quality. But despite that, it doesn’t feel like an overly ‘engineered’ whisky, either. There was surely a lot of love that went into making this stuff.

Everything here worked well for me, personally speaking. If this were simply a sherried whisky, it would be great. Likewise, if it were strictly peated, or strictly an ex-bourbon casked release, it would still be wonderful. I don’t know much about Japanese oak, but I can assume it played no small part in giving this dram such a distinctive taste. The combination of candied fruit and peat remind me ever-so-slightly of the Amrut Fusion. But with the addition of the different casks used, this stuff is considerably more layered. Also, the herbal, tea-like notes are quite distinctive and enjoyable. All the elements in here work harmoniously together. It’s complex, mature, and effortless. I love this stuff.

Thanks for your review. There is truly much to like with Y18. Pity it has gotten so ridiculously expensive. At current prices I may never buy a bottle of it.

Couldn't agree more. This was sampled at a friend's place. As wonderful as it is, I don't see myself buying a bottle of this anytime soon. Too bad, though. I really enjoy this one.

@mattberg

I've never tasted anything like this before, this is Rising Sun magic potion. The colour is a rich mahogany, like an Arabian Rabicano Racehorse. The nose is sublime, sweet chestnut, dark burnt cherries, almonds, marzipan, cork trees and dark rum raisins. I could spend all day nosing this and will try it with a cigar tomorrow (Probably a Partagas D4)

A teaspoon of water added: The mouth is a herbal blast of dried fruit, with flinty notes, teak-oak, dark cocoa, grass, cappuccino , minerals, green tea, nettles and paprika. The finish is bittersweet with waves of malt, mint, sherry-butter, liquorice, chocolate gateau and ancient oak smokiness coming through the long dry complex finish.

This is a Whisky to be tasted, then left for a while, a few days, weeks and months perhaps.

This is a remarkable whisky, my favorite so far. And I agree, you can nose this until your sinuses turn to blubber.

@Rantavahti

This was the first taste of Japanese whisky for me and it got me yearning for more. It felt like a good mixture of Japanese and Scottish craftsmanship. Japanese making the whisky like it should be done with adding their own expertise in there.

A true mix of two different crafts and two different cultures. That's why Suntory Yamazaki 18 year old is like the Kill Bill vol. 1. Western and eastern storytelling and specialties in one package.

Nose: Sherry is there but not in a bombing way. Hints of smoke with nice mixture of dates, anise and mint.

Taste: Sweet honey, oak and malt. Full body with lots of layers: raisins, oranges and sherry, which isn't too powerful.

Finish: Very dark textures: dried fruits and chocolate espresso with wee smoke.

Balance: Great whisky and I would love to taste it again. Probably the score would get higher 'cause I had this way back in a whisky tasting. Complex and sophisticated.

The Yamazakis get a lot of attention, for good reason of course. But if you ever have the chance I strongly recommend Ichiro's Malt. Some fantastic whiskies in the range. Don't know if they're available outside of Japan though.

An absolutely fantastic whisky in my opinion. Unfortunately the price has just gotten ridiculous! But I guess that's the way it usually goes with whisky...

R

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.

Grade: B+

@markjedi1

Yamazaki is the first distillery in Japan, founded by Shinjiro Torri, in collaboration with his protégé Masetaka Taketsuru (who would later go hiw own way with Yoichi and Miyagikyo). This Yamazaki 18 Year Old is praised around the world and has won many prizes. This sherry butt matured Japanese whisky is not cheap. Around 150 EUR.

The nose is wonderfully complex and layered. Every whiff offers something new. All kinds of dark fruits reach me first: dades, raisins, berries, the dried variety as well. The second wave offers dark chocolate with vanilla filling, hints of mandarin and a plethora of spices. Chervil, thyme, camphor and eucalyptus. Some mint. Autumn leaves! Rose-hip tea. Polished leather. Maple syrup. It goes on for a while. This is simply magnificent!

It is wonderfully creamy and mouth coating, with loud Mizunara oak. A lot of tannins, but it works perfectly. Well seasoned with a lot of sherry influence. The dried fruits return, upholstered with a light lemon zestiness. Slightly bitter orange tea. Big dose of cinnamon. Grrrrrreat!

In the long, drying finish, I finally get some woodspice.

This is an absolutely stunning whisky from the Land of the Rising Sun.

I went to a sushi bar where a glass of this was $35. Then again, there's another bar near me where it's only $22. I think I will try a glass this weekend at the Whisky Soda Bar. It has a kitchy theme with Thai gangster movies and surfer movies from the 1970's playing on the TV's. I think Bill Murray drank the 18 frequently in the film, Lost in Translation. I tried the 12 last summer and was disappointed. For me, the complexity was lacking, although it was very smooth and drinkable.

"Autumn Leaves" really brought this whisky back to me, so I had to comment. There is something old, musty, and damp about this whisky. The 12YO is bright and cheery, not so, this one. One of the more complex whiskies I have had the pleasure of tasting. Another note, regarding price. In Nashville TN this ranges from 116 - 149 dollars. Amazing to me to see such a range for one whisky in a single city.

n

nose: heavy sherry influence, but not a bomb. There's a slight salty-smokiness (think lapsang souchong). Anise, menthol, dates, diced dried fruit, and soft mint close it out.

palate: initially sweet, followed by oak (a little drying, but playing well off the background of a creme-based dessert with honey). Some sherry, but also malt, and almost a Highlands sense about it. Thick for 43%. Some fresh green cardomom and black pepper as well.

finish: the oakiness comes out a bit more, turning the sweetness to leather, espresso, and very dark chocolate. the smokiness returns, balancing the sweetness.

@Pierre_W

This has been a favourite of mine for quite some time. It has been matured in a complex mixture of casks including ex-sherry, ex-bourbon and mizunara oak.

The nose has got a heavily sherried profile. Wow, this is a good start! There is marzipan, dark chocolate and whiffs of rubber (but in a good way).

The palate is full-bodied and rich, first of all with very pronounced sherry notes. Later there are dried fruits such as raisin and figs, also orange peel and a hint of smoke. Fantastic!

The finish is very long and warming. After a while there is an enormous bouquet of dried fruits and chocolate, followed by a whiff of smoke.

This is a seriously sherried malt with a lot of character and complexity - a fabulous whisky in my opinion. Too bad that it is rather expensive both in Japan and in Europe. Nevertheless this has become an integral part of my whisky cabinet.

Thanks for a very nice review. Yamazaki 18 is a very lovely malt. One day I hope to own my own bottle of it. It is also expensive to buy in the US.

This is a pricey malt, Victor, but for once we've got a malt that is worth every penny. At least that is my opinion.

@MaltActivist

I found the nose similar to the 12yr old expression. Not sure if it's because it's the same family or that I just had the 12 year old. The nose was sweet like maple syrup and chocolate with touches of flora.The palate delivers full-on oak steeped in honey. Followed by dried plumbs and raisins. There are mild dry spices at the end. The finish is a little disappointing since it doesn't leave me with something unique. Just a muddle of everything I just tasted.

@Altmulig

When I opened the cap and sniffed, it had the sweet scent of corn whiskey. I looked the label over to see if it was a Bourbon emulation. There was little or no peatiness, which added to the corny flavour, maybe from the casks? It was a fine, heavy-bodied, dark whisky that seemed stronger than 86 proof.

@RobertH

This was a stretch for me as I have some preconceived notions about Whisky not made in Scotland. Show's me what for, doing my own thinking. This was one of the richest experiences I've had with a whisky. I was a little put off by the screw cap and tinted glass bottle, it made me think they were pushing the "wanna be" factor a bit too hard, but one dram turned me around. So much so that I turned right around and bought another bottle.

This follows on the richness of the Sonnalta PX with similar sherry notes and dark fruit, like ripe figs or dates. Mild pepper on the palate gave way to the honey and finished with sea salt and sweet spices.

This review certainly makes me want to get a taste of the Y18. Yes, there are lots of great malts outside of Scotland. Two others from non-Japanese terrain: Connemara Cask Strength is sublime, and McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt is terrific.

Its a great review, and if there was a whisky that would open your eyes to the wonders of Japanese malts, the Yamazaki expressions are the ones to do it. I'm a big fan of Yamazaki anyway!

@Alanjp

I’ve already established in my previous two reviews that I am a big fan of the Japanese single malts, and this review will be no different I’m afraid! This is my third Yamazaki malt to try (and finish a bottle of), and although it’s the oldest, it isn’t my favourite. I do hold it in very high regard.

It’s smooth, as seems to be the recurring factor with these malts, but has the stronger kick that you won’t get from sampling a younger age. It’s as if there’s a certain power behind the whisky as you take it down, but a subtle kind of power, it makes sense to me anyway! It’s pricey compared to the other ages, (it cost me around £70 for the bottle), but there is no denying that this whisky is well worth the asking price. The taste is truly superb, you can almost feel the years of aging as it glides down with ease, and it has a delicate smell that again seems to be prevalent through Japanese malts.

When you speak about quality high end whiskies, the obvious choices are Scottish and Irish malts. However with the spectacular taste and feel of this whisky, and the Japanese market in general, it’s clear to see why they are becoming some of the most sought-after malts around.

Can you tell us your favorite? Don't leave us hangin'!

@galg

Color: Dark Amber

Nose: Oak, dried fruit, Sherry. Wow! a very attractive nose. The extra 6 years did their magic in terms of intensity of the fruit and the aromas. After some time, Sultanas dipped in liquor. Wonderful.

Palate: vanilla at first is noticeable, as well as Oak and sweet sherry.Dried fruits galore ( Sultanas, Dates). Some Demerara sugar cane and spices. Complex. Very Complex.

Finish: Woodiness (Oak), Distant smoke (but stronger than the 12 year old), spice and pepper going all the way. A long finish, text book long finish. Ace!

This is top of my wish list. I’m going on holiday next month and will buy a bottle duty free. You know I’m almost looking forward to it more than the holiday.

hehe :) a fine choice! enjoy it

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