Slainte-Mhath

Yamazaki 18 Year

Single Malt — Honshu, Japan

Tasted
4.5
4.5 out of 5 stars
Whisky making as an art - that's the essence of whisky-dō, or 'the way of whisky'. No other Japanese Single Malt reflects this philosophy better than Yamazaki 18. An endless potpourri of flavors overwhelms the nose: luscious, heavy sherry notes, pipe tobacco and sour plums; polished wood, leather and raspberries. The palate offers exotic wood spices, dark chocolate, dried fruits and hints of eucalyptus. Roasted coffee, mild orange zest and a touch of Mizunara oak mark the prolonged finish. An outstanding malt that has become shockingly expensive. RATING: 4.5/5.0 stars ≙ 92 pts → SUPERB
549.0 EUR per Bottle
  • Slainte-Mhath

    @Rick_M No harm in buying a bottle or two, I just stocked up on Hakushu 12 myself. People at the distillery had doubts that it will be re-launched anytime soon, and the fact that not even Hakushu NAS was available anywhere in Japan does not make me very optimistic.

  • PBMichiganWolverine

    @Rick_M I’m really doubtful on whiskey for “investment”. It’s so highly illiquid ( no pun intended). And if you manage to sell it at auction, there’s shipping and commissions fee. Maybe its just me , but I’d rather open and drink with friends, and save the unicorns for special occasions

  • Rick_M

    @Slainte-Mhath - i recently found another stash of Hakushu 12 for under $100. Whiskey Search doesn’t show anyone in USA selling for less than $130. I just finished one (4 stars) and have two more in stock. In your opinion, should I grab these other 3 for investment. It’s a great whiskey but not 5 stars for me.

  • SolanaRoots

    @Slainte-Mhath Great info on the state of Japanese whisky and cheers for the heads up on Akkeshi

  • Richard-ModernDrinking

    @Slainte-Mhath Thanks. I wasn’t worried that they were fakes, just trying to reconcile the discrepancy as I got the impression that we had seen the last batches. Regardless, it was nice to see a temporary break in the famine.

  • Slainte-Mhath

    @Richard-ModernDrinking Suntory obviously released a last batch of Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 just before they discontinued both expressions. They have re-designed box/packaging, similar to Yamazaki 12, Chita etc. All these bottles were apparently for the export market, as I never saw them in Japan. I bought a Hakushu 12 myself just recently, and don't think they are fakes. I asked people at Hakushu distillery, and they seem to have no plans to re-introduce Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 anytime soon.

  • Richard-ModernDrinking

    @Slainte-Mhath One thing that is confusing me is the recent and sudden appearance of lots of supposedly discontinued whisky. Hakushu 12 is available again and I even managed to buy a newly bottled Hibiki 17 last month. Any insights?

  • Soba45

    @Slainte-Mhath Ah I hadn't heard of them. Good to see new Japanese distilleries starting up. I don't stay away from Japanese whiskies just those that are have any component of Scots whiskey blended in. I suppose good whiskey is good whiskey but it's just something that bugs me.

  • Slainte-Mhath

    @PBMichiganWolverine Chichibu is absolutely aware of this, and they are not very happy that most of their bottles are being bought by collectors and investors who are never going to open them. Hence, the construction of their second distillery. They just finished test runs and will be fully operational in September. The new distillery has 4x capacity of the old one, so hopefully we will see some more affordable Chichibu... in 5-8 years.

  • Slainte-Mhath

    A good advice how to stay clear of fake-Japanese whisky: buy Single Malts only. Any blend, blended malt or 'pure malt' is a concern. The more Japanese the label looks (Japanese paper, samurai etc.), the more likely it contains Scotch, Canadian or whatever whisky.

  • PBMichiganWolverine

    @Slainte-Mhath great travel report! To add to below—-the ones that are known to be made in Japanese quality are sky high prices—-I’m thinking Chichibu specifically

  • Slainte-Mhath

    @Soba45 I can absolutely understand that one tends to stay away from Japanese whisky because of all the fakes, but that's of course a real concern for all the new distilleries in Japan who are doing a great job. Take Akkeshi, for example, they started a new distillery on Hokkaido not long ago, and their malt is 100% Japanese, produced with a Springbank-mindset and passion. And yet, it will be dismissed as no one ever heard their name, assuming it is just another fake-Japanese whisky. That's very sad.

  • Soba45

    @Slainte-Mhath Good write up. I thought the situation would have resolved in part by now as things took off several years ago whi min 2013 when JM rated the Yamazaki top world whiskey. I agree with the whole masquerade Scots subbing for Japanese whisky. I purposefully stay away from any of that stuff.

  • Slainte-Mhath

    @Rick_M I wished I had brought better news from the land of the rising sun, but supply and demand have led to a situation where the entire reputation of Japanese whisky is at stake. Fake-Japanese whisky as the likes of Kurayoshi and Togouchi are a major concern at all the distilleries I visited, causing both anger and frustration. Check out the 'Japanese whisky' at an major airport, and you will understand.

  • Rick_M

    @Slainte-Mhath - interesting travel report. Nice job!

  • Slainte-Mhath

    Additional comment: Tasted and reviewed at Yamazaki distillery in July 2019. Japanese whisky is at the crossroads - you can read the in-depth travel report of my Japan distillery tour here: https://www.whiskybase.com/contribute/group/73/topic/17837/japanese-whisky-at-the-crossroads-a-travel-report