[Review] YAMAZAKURA Single Malt Asaka 2023 EDITION

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Asaka Distillery

Sasanokawa Shuzo, with a history of over 250 years as a sake brewery, obtained a license to produce whisky in 1946 and established the “Asaka Distillery” in 2016 as a project to celebrate the 250th anniversary of its founding.
Continuing from last year, the company released “YAMAZAKURA Single Malt Asaka 2023 EDITION” under the name EDITION.

This year’s 2023 EDITION is mainly made from bourbon barrels with a non-peated base. It is characterized by a slight peat aroma and light body.

“Yamazakura Blended Malt Japanese Whisky Asaka Sherry Wood Reserve” won the world’s highest award in the Blended Malt Whisky category at the “World Whisky Awards (WWA) 2022”, and the distillery’s reputation is growing both in Japan and abroad every year.


1. Manufacturer

Sasanokawa Shuzo Co., Ltd.

Establishment1765 (Meiwa 2)
Head office location1-178 Sasagawa, Koriyama-shi, Fukushima 963-0108
Owned distilleriesAsaka Distillery

2. Distillery

Asaka Distillery

Location1-178 Sasagawa, Koriyama-shi, Fukushima 963-0108
Start of operation1946 (old facility), resumed distillation in April 2016 (new facility)

1765 (Meiwa 2) Start of operation
1920 (Taisho 9) Establishment of Yamaguchi Shuzo Co.
1932 (Showa 7) Establishment of Yamazakura Shuzo Limited Partnership
1946 (Showa 21) Obtained license to manufacture whisky
1966 (Showa 41) Establishment of Sasanokawa Shuzo Co., Ltd.
1983 (Showa 58) Completed construction of whisky malt storage facility
1998 (Heisei 10) Yamazakura Shuzo and Sasanokawa Shuzo merge, with Sasanokawa Shuzo Co., Ltd.
2004 (Heisei 16) Receives stored whisky from Toa Shuzo.
2005 (Heisei 17) “Ichiro’s Malt” is released, planned by Venture Whisky. (The manufacturer column on the back label of the bottle is Sasanokawa Shuzo.)
2016 (Heisei 26) Asaka Distillery starts full-scale operations.

Yamazakura Shuzo, founded in 1710 south of Lake Inawashiro, moved to Koriyama in 1765.
This Yamazakura Shuzo was the first to obtain a license to brew whisky in 1946, when the demand for whisky increased as a national policy during the postwar American military occupation.

The shortage of rice during and after the war made sake brewing extremely difficult, and the influx of Western culture after the war was also a factor in the company’s commitment to whisky making.

In the 1950s and 1960s, during the period of high economic growth, the company was known as “Cherry of the North, Toa of the East, and Mars of the West,” and along with Toa Shuzo and Hombo Shuzo, Sasanogawa Shuzo’s “Cherry Whisky” also gained popularity.
However, due to low growth and changing tastes, Toa Shuzo was forced to withdraw from the business in 2003, and Sasanokawa Shuzo took over the barrels of the original whisky at the Hanyu Distillery.

This was a big help in the release of “Ichiro’s Malt”, which later became popular worldwide.

The distillery has been producing whisky in small quantities since the postwar period, and currently uses two types: a Scotch type and a malt type imported from Kentucky.

The Asaka Distillery is located in the “Sasanokawa Shuzo” a shuzo that has been in operation since the Edo period, and began operations at the end of October 2016 with production facilities and the cooperation of Chichibu Distillery’s Ichiro Hido.

The pot stills look great against the old-fashioned white plaster walls.

Image source: Asaka Distillery’s official Facebook

For more information about Asaka Distillery, please visit here↓.


3. Product name and photo

YAMAZAKURA Single Malt Asaka 2023 EDITION

Yamazakura Single Malt Asaka 2023 Edition

4. Characteristics

A complex and flavorful single malt Japanese whisky blended with a carefully selected blend of bourbon barrel non-pitched Asaka sake. The aroma of peat is subtle and accentuates the flavor. Gentle and mellow, with a light citrus acidity unique to Asaka, and a refreshing aroma. Light body with a good balance of barrel-derived sweetness, malt flavor, and a moderate vanilla aroma. Short but firm aftertaste. Non-chill filtered (non-cooled filtered), natural color (no coloring) finish.

Reference: “YAMAZAKURA SINGLE MALT JAPANESE WHISKY Asaka 2023 EDITION” on sale|Sasanokawa Shuzo official website

4-1. Tasting Notes


White grape, kumquat, yogurt, cookie


Milk sponge cake, vanilla wafer, plum, sweet and sour


Fading acidity is followed by a mild peat aftertaste.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content50%
DistillateSingle malt Japanese whisky
Barrel typeBourbon barrels, etc.
Content volume700ml
Number of bottles soldLimited quantity
Suggested retail price12,100 yen (tax included)
Release dateApril 17, 2023

5. Awards

No awards received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Product nameYAMAZAKURA Single Malt Asaka 2023 EDITION
Suggested Retail PriceTax included: 12,100 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale prices on Mercari range from around 8,800 yen to 19,000 yen. (*As of 5/3/2023)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions

Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions: Lowest 9,300 yen Highest 9,300 yen Average 12,975 yen (*Statistics for the past 180 days from 5/3/2023)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

It is also available on the mail order website for 19,500 yen. (*As of 5/3/2023)

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, we offer it in small quantities such as 1 glass, 45ml: 3,960 yen 30ml: 2,640 yen, 15ml: 1,320 yen, etc.

Information about “BAR Shinkai”
Japanese Whisky Dictionary operates three BAR Shingai stores in Minato Ward, Tokyo. In addition to the Japanese whiskeys introduced on this site, they also hand...

7. Summary

Compared to last year’s 2022 EDITION, I have the impression that the finish is slightly peaty. Last year, the official comment was “accentuated peat aroma,” but when I actually drank it, I thought it was a non-peat wine. In fact, when I actually drank it, I thought it tasted like it was made without peat. Compared to last year, this year’s wine has a slight peatiness. Overall, it is light, easy to drink, and well put together.

■What is “Yamazakura” whisky? Please also see the thorough explanation of its taste and types.


■Please check out other articles about “Asaka Distillery”.

[Review] YAMAZAKURA World Blende...
A world blended whisky with the Asaka distillery as the key malt and the five major regions of the world as the original malt. It is characterized by its low sw...
YAMAZAKURA Single Malt Asaka 202...
Carefully selected 1st fill bourbon barrel non-peated and 50ppm peated originals. Aromatic, rich, nutty, savory canele and vanilla.

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 whisky 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

(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 whisky 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.

(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 whisky? 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.

(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 whisky 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.

Misato Ushiwata

Born in Fukushima Prefecture.
She attended a university in Tokyo, where she studied brewing and other sciences while translating articles for the "Japanese Whisky Dictionary".

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Japanese Whisky Dictionary