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Suntory Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel bottled 2013

Average score from 2 reviews and 2 ratings 81

Suntory Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel bottled 2013

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Suntory Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel bottled 2013

Yamazaki distillery was established in 1923 by the Kotobukiya Company, owned by Shinjiro Torii. It is located in Yamazaki, a small town situated between Kyoto and Osaka. Production started in 1924 with Masataka Taketsuru, the future founder of Yoichi distillery, as distillery manager. Kotobukiya changed its name to Suntory in 1929, and their first whisky, a blend made from their single malt and grain whiskies, was released in 1932. The distillery is located near the confluence of three rivers (Katsura, Kizu and Uji), in an area traditionally famous for its good water, and indeed the great tea master Sen no Rikyu chose to have his tea house there. Suntory claims that the three rivers meet each other at different temperatures, which causes mist that is good for storing whisky as it reduces the loss of moisture from the casks. Yamazaki’s first whisky was released in 1929. This ‘Bourbon Barrel’ expression of 2011 contains various single malts that were matured in first-fill bourbon casks for between 10 and 15 years prior to vatting and bottling.

The nose is lightly floral and very sweet, with honey, marzipan and cinnamon all being present. The dominating flavour on the nose, however, is vanilla.

The palate is medium-bodied, peppery and a tad oaky. Lemon flavours now take center stage, followed by more vanilla, marzipan and ginger. Towards the end a tannic dryness appears more and more forcefully.

The finish is of medium length, rather spicy and very dry. Vanilla and lemon flavours round this off.

In my opinion this is good quality malt whisky but without much character. While the sweetness on the nose is rather lovely, the tannic dryness of both palate and finish were less so. I am not too much impressed and much prefer the standard 12-year old bottling.


A limited edition Single Malt from Suntory Yamazaki, with just 1,000 bottles for the UK market.

No age statement, 48% ABV. Around £65.

This is a delicious Yamazaki released in 2011 aged entirely in first fill bourbon barrels.

Colour: Medum Golden

Nose: A perfumy, aromatic nose with lemon zest, heather honey and hazelnut. Hints of cinnamon, rose petal jelly and custard.??

Mouthfill: Light and slightly dry. Very smooth.

Palate: Smooth. Tropical like the Hakushu, with a predominance of creamy, sweet coconut milk, peach melba, rum spices and toasty oak.??

Finish: Medium in length with allspice, nutmeg and hazelnut on the tail.

Overall Comments: This is a quality malt from Suntory and is light, subtle and complex. Very typically Japanese but with nods towards the lighter side of the likes of Balvenie. The nose and palate are so subtle that it needs to be savoured with a clean palate (no curries or spicy food please!). If you take your time with this malt and focus on the tastes, they flood through, gently presenting themselves one by one. It's a gem.

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