[Review] Single Malt Yamazaki NV (non-vintage)

“Single Malt Whisky Yamazaki” was launched in 1984. In the 1980s, blended whisky was the mainstream and 100% malt whisky was a drink enjoyed only by a limited number of connoisseurs. However, in the 1980s, blended whiskeys were the norm and 100% malt whiskey was only available to a limited number of enthusiasts. Keizo Saji, the second generation master blender, decided to take on a new challenge “I want to make a single malt whiskey that represents Japan.”
Single malt whisky is a whisky made by combining only the raw whiskies from a single distillery. Single malt whisky is a whisky that is made by combining only the raw whisky produced at a single distillery, which is influenced by the distillery’s commitment to the craft and climate, and reflects the distillery’s individuality. Keizo, who has his eye on the future of Japanese whisky, believes that in an age of diversifying values, single malts with strong individuality will surely be in demand, and he is taking on the challenge of creating whisky that will be sought after in the new age.
Together with the chief blender at the time, Ken Sato, he tasted countless bottles of original whisky in pursuit of the ideal taste. Finally, they arrived at the answer: harmony, where a variety of raw materials mix and enhance each other without any one personality standing out.
Thus, on March 14, 1984, Yamazaki was born, the ultimate single malt whisky, which took about two years to produce.
Now, more than 30 years later, it still reigns as the representative of Japanese single malt whisky.
Reference: Suntory Yamazaki Distillery News

The “崎” in Yamazaki is a combination of the Chinese characters for “山” and “奇” but the character for “崎” on the label is actually a little different, combining the character for “山” with a scrap of the character for “寿” in the former Suntory company name, 寿屋 Kotobuki-ya. The letters were handwritten by Keizo Saji, Suntory’s master blender at the time, which shows his pride and commitment.

1. Manufacturer

Suntory Spirits Ltd.

Establishment 1899
Headquarters location 2-3-3 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 135-8631, Japan
Owned distillery ● Japan
Yamazaki Distillery, Hakushu Distillery, Chita Distillery
● Scotland
Ardmore distillery, Glengilly distillery, Auchentoshan distillery, Bowmore distillery, Laphroig distillery
● Ireland
Cooley distillery, Kilbeggan distillery
● United States
Jim Beam distillery, Maker’s Mark distillery
● Canada
Hiram Walker distillery, Alberta distillery

2. Distillery

Suntory Yamazaki Distillery

Location 5-2-1 Yamazaki, Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun, Osaka 618-0001, Japan
Start of operation 1923

The Yamazaki Distillery was established in 1923 as the first malt whisky distillery in Japan. This was at a time when whiskey was still a rare drink for the general public. I want to make a Japanese whiskey that suits the delicate taste of the Japanese people. With this passion in his heart, Shinjiro Torii set out to make whiskey.
Shinjiro was particular about the Japanese climate. Water and the environment were especially important to him. Yamazaki is the home of the famous water called Minase no, which was written about in the Manyo poem.
The tea master Sen no Rikyu loved this place and the water was perfect for making whiskey. The natural environment was also perfect.
Yamazaki is located in the southwest of Kyoto, at the foot of Tennozan (Mt. Tenno), where bamboo groves grow thickly, and is rich in nature where you can feel the seasonal changes. Located at the confluence of the Katsura, Uji, and Kizu Rivers, and surrounded by mountains, Yamazaki is prone to thick fog and has a warm and humid climate, which is ideal for maturing whiskey.

Nobujiro decided that Yamazaki was the only place where he could make good whiskey with this water and climate.


[Suntory Yamazaki Distillery]

1923 Yamazaki distillery was built. The first whisky distillery in Japan.
1929 Released “Shirofuda” , the first domestically produced whisky.
1937 Released “Kakubin” .
1984 Released single malt whisky “Yamazaki” .
1992 Released single malt whisky “Yamazaki 18 years Old” .
1998 Released single malt whisky ” Yamazaki 25 years Old” .

Image courtesy of Yamazaki Club.

For more information on the Yamazaki Distillery, please see this article.

3. Product name and photo

Single Malt Yamazaki

4. Characteristics

Image credit: Yamazaki Lineup Single Malt Whisky Suntory


4-1. Tasting Notes

Aroma A gorgeous, soft vanilla aroma with a hint of Quercus oak barrels. A slight hint of fruit from wine barrels later.
Taste Fullness and sweetness from the malt, woodiness and tannins from the wine barrels, and a fruity berry taste that comes later.
Aftertaste Spicy and slightly alcoholic with an astringent and woody aftertaste.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content 43%
alcohol category Single malt whisky
Barrel alcohol Wine casks, Quercus spp. casks, puncheon casks, etc.
Contents 700ml
Number of bottles sold
Suggested retail price 4,620 yen (tax included)
Release date March 14, 1984 (New Yamazaki, the so-called current Yamazaki, was added to the lineup on May 29, 2012)

5. Awards

There is no award history at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Image Exhibit: Product Introduction Suntory
Product name Single Malt Yamazaki
Capacity 700ml
Suggested retail price 4,200 yen (tax included: 4,620 yen)

6-2. Resale Price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 7,700 yen to 9,000 yen. (*As of February 7 , 2021) 

6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

The winning bid price on Yahoo Auction is Lowest bidder: 7,110 yen, highest bidder: 9,500 yen, average bidder: 8,005 yen.

(*Statistics for the past 120 days since February 7 , 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

Mail order sites also sell them for around 9,200 yen to 12,000 yen. (*As of February 7 , 2021)
In rare cases, you can find it at a liquor store at a fixed price, but it sells out almost immediately, and on the Internet, it is sold at a pre-price, making it as popular as ever.

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” , which is operated by this website, one glass, 45ml: 1,540 yen is offered.

7. Summary

This whiskey has a sweet, soft, fruit-like aroma and a smooth, complex flavor derived from several types of barrels.
It is recommended to drink it on the rocks or in a highball. It has a gorgeous and sweet taste.

On January 8, 2021, Suntory will ease restrictions on whiskey shipments for the first time in 11 years. The whiskey industry was buzzing for a moment.
The targeted products are Chita and Ao. The sales volume of Chita is targeted at 116% of the previous year’s level, and the sales volume of Ao is targeted at 249% of the previous year’s level.
Both Chita and Ao will be released in half bottles (350ml) on March 23 so that people can enjoy them easily at home.
Unfortunately, Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Hibiki will continue to be restricted in shipment.
When will we be able to buy the ever-popular Yamazaki easily? It will be interesting to see what Suntory does in the future.

Please check out the other articles about Yamazaki.

Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky

If you want to learn more about Japanese whisky, which is a global trend, we highly recommend these books.

(1).Whisky Galore Vol.29 December 2021 issue

In the December 2021 issue of Whisky Galore, published by the Whisky Culture Research Institute, we report on 11 Japanese craft distilleries, including some that are open to the public for the first time, under the title of “Japanese Whisky Craft Frontline,” the first of three consecutive issues. Why did the popularity of Japanese whiskey and the craft boom occur? We will examine with interviews. Chichibu Distillery / Chichibu No.2 Distillery / Mars Shinshu Distillery / Mars Tsunuki Distillery / Kanosuke Distillery / Hioki Distillery / Ontake Distillery / Osuzuyama Distillery / Kaikyo Distillery / Hanyu Distillery / Konosu Distillery

created by Rinker
(2023/06/08 20:06:01時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(2). Japanese Whisky as an Education for Business

This is a book written by Mamoru Tsuchiya, a world-famous whisky critic and representative of the Whisky Culture Research Institute, titled “Japanese Whisky as a Culture that Works for Business” .
The book covers the basics of whisky, the introduction of whisky to Japan, the birth of Japanese whisky, advertising strategies and the rise of Japanese whisky, and the current rise of craft distilleries. This is a book that summarizes Japanese whisky in a very easy to understand way.

(3). Whisky and I (Masataka Taketsuru)

Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, devoted his life to brewing whisky in Japan. This is a revised and reprinted version of the autobiography of a man who simply loved whiskey and talked about himself. The book vividly depicts the days when he went to Scotland alone to study as a young man and overcame many hardships to complete Japanese whisky, as well as his companion, Rita.

created by Rinker
(2023/06/08 01:05:28時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(4). A Letter of Challenge from a New Generation Distillery

Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whisky boom, what were the managers of craft distilleries thinking and what were their thoughts as they took on the challenge of making whiskey? This book tells the stories of 13 craft distillery owners, including Ichiro Hido of Venture Whisky, famous for his Ichirose Malt, who inspired the birth of craft distilleries in Japan.

created by Rinker
(2023/06/08 07:00:08時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(5). Whiskey Rising

This is the Japanese version of Whisky Risng, published in the US in 2016, with much updated content. Not only does it describe the history of Japanese whiskey in detail, but it also includes data on all the distilleries in Japan, including the craft distilleries that have been founded in recent years. The book also includes descriptions of the legendary bottles that have been released, as well as information on bars where Japanese whisky can be found.

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