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Yamazaki is a powerhouse of a distillery. Competing alongside Nikka for my affections it is routinely churning out brilliant expressions. The 12 and the 18 - both having secured cult status. The 25 that I have sitting on my shelf which I am saving for the most momentous of occasions.
Then there are the Hakushus coming out from the same gates. Saltier and more maritime in nature and equally good.
But what I love most is the air of intrigue and minimalistic sophistication Japanese whiskies bring with them. There is nothing which is too much or unnecessary. Nothing is loud or overbearing. Instead there is a controlled elegance to everything they represent.
While the Yamazaki Distillers Reserve may not be the best Yamazaki I have tasted it is quite decent in it's own right.
Expertly blended by Shinji Fukuyo, the fourth Chief Blender of Yamazaki, the Distillers Reserve is a mix of three unique casks; Wine, Sherry & Mizunara. And there seems to be something from each in the final spirit.
Nose: Malty. Butterscotch. Pepper. Dry fruit. Sugar frosting. A ton of pineapple. Jack fruit and papaya. All the tropical fruits in the world. The wine comes through in a fruity chardonnay with a hint of oak. Decently accomplished if not magnificent.
Palate: Very thin. Apples. Light honey. Mid-palate it becomes fruitier. It's the same tropical suspects. Bananas with the faintest of mangoes. Hints of oak. I think it's trying to be a Speysider but not really doing a good enough job of it.
Finish: Medium with a touch of spice. My least favorite part.
Look, I keep saying this one is far from magnificent but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve a pour.