The Yamazaki 18-year-old single malt is one of my all-time favorite whiskies. I picked up a bottle about a year and a half ago, before the world craving for Japanese whisky reached the heights its experiencing today. When I say picked up, I mean it was sitting on the shelf, collecting dust alongside other whiskies. I immediately purchased it. I wish I would have done the same with another bottle I saw at a different retail shop across town.
The days of finding a bottle on a shelf are long gone. Sure, you may find a bottle at a retail shop, but chances are likely its price is going to be marked up. I paid less than $200 for my bottle, which is right under the suggested retail price. This expression is bottled at 43%.
Right off the bat, this whisky fill your nose with a melange of rich, fruity aromas. Slightly burnt caramel, raisins & prunes, dried apricots and mulling spices leap out of the glass. A bit of wood spice, leather and a whisp of smoke stay in the background. Quite intoxicating. I could smell this for days. The entry isn’t initially as sweet as the nose suggests, but it is as rich. Dried red fruits and spices on entry lend to a short burst of tropical fruit. Cinnamon stick and allspice provide the spicy characteristics. In the meantime, sherried malt gives way to dark berries and a creamy bitterness at the back palate. Let’s call it mocha or dark chocolate. The finish is medium in length, leaving behind a slightly burnt spicy caramel note.
The rich, dark fruit and spicy nature of this whisky is the reason it’s in my Top 10 all-time favorites. My only minor complaint, if you want to call it that, is the bottling proof. While I’m certainly no expert, I can’t help but wonder how much more delicious a 46% or cask strength release would be. Regardless, the Yamazaki 18 is one of the more enjoyable whisky experiences I’ve had. Really, it’s that good.