Yamazaki was Japan’s first whisky distillery, blazing a trail by producing multiple styles at the same site, so that it could blend whiskies of depth and complexity, with a delicacy that would appeal to Japanese palates.
At first they did this out of necessity. As the sole whisky distillery in the country, they could not trade stock with other producers, who made different styles of whisky, as was the practice for blenders in Scotland. If they wanted to make blended whiskies, they had no choice but to make the distinct components for themselves.
They have maintained this approach, and today they operate 16 pot stills of different shapes and sizes, as well as using a mix of wood and steel fermentation tanks, peated and unpeated malt, and barrels of different woods and sizes to deliver a diverse assortment of whiskies that they can mix and match in-house to make “blended single malts”.
The Tsukuriwake Selection 2022 includes four whiskies, made with different casks and different types of malt, which showcase the remarkable range of Yamazaki’s output. Tsukuriwake means “artisanship through a diversity of making”, and the selection is a clear demonstration of the distillery’s mastery of the whisky-making art. The whiskies are:
This is the purest expression of the archetypal Yamazaki style. It is aged in 480 litre puncheons, which are made by reshaping and reassembling American ex-bourbon staves into larger format barrels. The larger barrels mean that less liquid is in contact with the wood, slowing the maturation process, resulting in a whisky which is delicate, but still vibrant with orchard fruits, honey, and butterscotch.
Until now, Yamazki releases have contained only small quantities of peated whisky, it was included just to provide additional depth and longer finish, not to be a dominant flavour. This is the distillery’s first full-bodied peated whisky, and it can go toe-to-toe with the best of Islay. Heavy smoke and juicy pineapple are a delightful juxtaposition; the standout of the selection.
Aged in casks made with oak sourced from northern Spain, this deep amber whisky has intense flavours of prunes and raisins. Bold and flashy, this will be a sure-fire hit with sherry bomb enthusiasts.
Mizunara is Japanese oak. Rare, and notoriously knotted and porous, mizunara casks are costly and difficult to work with, but its complex flavours of spice and sandalwood make it worth the effort. Used to in minute quantities to provide top notes to Yamazaki’s blends, the distillery’s mizunara releases are wildly popular, and highly collectable.
This collection allows you to explore the key components of Yamazaki whisky, offering you a deeper understanding of the distillery’s output, and tantalising your senses.
Individual bottles from the Yamazaki Limited Edition Tsukuriwake Selection 2022 are available from The Whisky Exchange, at a price of £600 each for the Puncheon, Peated Malt, and Spanish Oak, and £750 for the Mizunara. They will be sold by ballot, between 28 and 30 June. Register now for your chance to buy.