An extremely uncommon whisky is coming to the U.S. from legendary Japanese whisky maker Suntory and its flagship Yamazaki distillery: Yamazaki 55 is a Japanese single malt with historical past relationship again to the ‘60s, incomes it the excellence of being the oldest whisky ever launched by Suntory.
Yamazaki 55 contains particular person casks of Japanese single malt from 1960 and 1964, the previous aged in Japanese Mizunara oak and the latter aged in additional widespread white oak casks. The pedigree of this whisky is wonderful: it was distilled when the founder was nonetheless alive, and has been rigorously watched by a number of generations of grasp blenders.
That is massive information for a whisky model that, within the final 5 years, has seen exponential progress in demand whereas concurrently seeing substantial hurdles to assembly it.
Yamazaki isn’t simply one of the crucial distinguished names in Japanese whisky—it’s the primary. Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii set the stage when building started in 1923, simply outdoors Kyoto. Within the many years since, Suntory has grown to incorporate the Hakushu distillery, and several other extra manufacturers (to not point out its acquisition of Beam, which features a substantial variety of bourbon manufacturers, together with Jim Beam, Booker’s, and Maker’s Mark).
Usually we don’t give a lot consideration to a bottle’s packaging, however the crystal decanter for the Yamazaki 55 is beautiful, with sandblasted designs and touches of gold mud and lacquer within the ultimate design. It’s additionally wrapped in handmade Echizen washi paper and sure with a Kyo-kumihimo plaited twine, which is a conventional Kyoto craft.
The piece that’s most fascinating, nonetheless, is the field, which is produced from mizunara oak wooden that provides nice Japanese malts their distinctive character. It’s an analogous packaging choice to Booker’s thirtieth launch, which was offered in distinctive packing containers produced from reclaimed lumber from a warehouse being disassembled when the liquid was completed.
At 46 % ABV, it’s a restrained single malt in true Japanese trend—nothing punchy or overpowering for the liquid’s aromas and flavors to deal with. And that’s good, as a result of the deep amber liquid is, in line with Suntory, aromatically lush with well-ripened fruit and sandalwood on the nostril. Official tasting notes spotlight intense woody character from the mizunara earlier than a end of smoke.
If that doesn’t sound notably descriptive, properly, we agree, however these ultra-old whiskies have a method of being indescribable, even for the masters. Fifth-generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo had extra so as to add, fortunately: “All through the method of mixing Yamazaki 55, I used as inspiration the passage of time and ‘Wabi-sabi’—the Japanese perception that imperfections may help to finally contribute to perfection,” defined Fukuyo. “Whereas I typically view different additional aged whiskies as artwork, I take into account Yamazaki 55 to be extra like a Buddhist statue: calm and mysterious, requiring time to really benefit from the interior magnificence.”
After all, for many of us, tasting it will likely be a pipe dream. Yamazaki 55 is (as you most likely anticipated) obtainable in profoundly restricted portions. The liquid really started promoting in 2020 to Japanese customers in a separate 100-bottle launch. This yr’s launch is identical measurement, however is out there on a world scale, together with the US, United Kingdom, China, and Taiwan.
In case you’re fortunate sufficient to get your fingers on a bottle, we are able to’t let you know cracking it open is a good suggestion anyway. The collector’s worth of a launch like that is substantial. After all, to carry such a uncommon liquid and never give it a style?
That appears like a very sobering choice, too.
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