[Review] Single Malt Yamazaki 12 years old

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Yamazaki Distillery

A representative Japanese single malt whisky that was introduced in 1984, the 60th year since the completion of the Yamazaki distillery, the birthplace of Japanese whisky.
We carefully selected mature malt suitable for tasting raw from among the treasured malt casks that have been aged for more than 12 years over the four seasons in Yamazaki.
Its taste is highly evaluated even overseas.


1. Manufacturer

Suntory Spirits Co.

Established 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

Suntory’s first venture into the whisky business in Japan was in 1923, when it set up the Yamazaki distillery in Kyoto.

It was a place where three rivers, Katsura, Kizu, and Uji, converged, making it humid and very foggy. It was there that the first domestically produced whisky, Suntory Shirofuda, was born in 1929.

However, the smoky aroma was not accepted by the Japanese taste buds at the time, and the product struggled.

In 1984, in the age of blended whisky, Yamazaki 12 year single malt whisky was born.

Image credit: Suntory official website

3. Product name and photo

Yamazaki 12 years old

4. Features

Gold medal at the ISC in 2003. The first achievement for Japanese whisky.
This is a representative of Japanese whisky that has achieved excellent results in various competitions, starting with the award in 2003.
For maturing barrels, “puncheon barrels” “sherry barrels” and “Quercus barrels” are used.
The balance of the taste is excellent, and the fruity sweetness can be felt even when drunk on the rocks, with water, or in a highball.

4-1. Tasting Notes

Aroma Sweet aroma with hints of honey and vanilla.
Taste Fruity sweetness, then woody and spicy with hints of Quercus serrata.
Aftertaste Finally, an elegant sweetness reminiscent of fruit slowly follows.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content 43%
alcohol category Single malt whisky
Cask type Puncheon, sherry and Quercus barrels
Contents 700ml
Number of bottles sold
Suggested retail price 9,350 yen (tax included)
Release date 1984

5. Awards

2003 ISC Gold Award
2009 SWSC Best Gold Award
2010 ISC Gold Medal
2013 SWSC Gold Medal
2014 SWSC Gold Award
2018 ISC Gold Award

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price


Product name Single Malt Yamazaki 12 years old
Capacity 700ml
Suggested retail price 8,500 yen (tax included: 9,350 yen)

6-2. Resale Price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 18,000 yen to 20,000 yen. (*As of March 10 , 2021)


6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

The winning bid price on Yahoo Auction is Lowest bidder: 12,500 yen, highest bidder: 21,000 yen, average bidder: 18,900 yen.

(*Statistics for the past 120 days since March 10 , 2021)


6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

Mail order sites also sell them for around 20,000 yen to 22,000 yen. (*As of March 10 , 2021)
It has become common for them to be traded for almost three times the regular price. I hope you will be able to buy it at the regular price soon, although it may be unavoidable because the amount of distribution to the market is small.

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” , which is operated by this website, one cup, 45ml: 3,300 yen is offered.

Information about “BAR Shinkai”
Japanese Whisky Dictionary operates three BAR Shingai stores in Minato Ward, Tokyo. In addition to the Japanese whiskeys...

7. Summary

It is no exaggeration to say that whisky is synonymous with Japanese whisky, and is very popular not only in Japan but also overseas. Nowadays, it is often sold at a premium price and is still in short supply, but many bars that sell Japanese whiskys have it on hand.

If you haven’t tried it yet, try comparing it with Yamazaki NV and you’ll feel the difference in the aging and other characteristics.

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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.

新海 博之

Born July 17, 1981 in Kitahiroshima City, Hokkaido, Japan
After graduating from university, joined NTT Data Customer Service Corporation as a new graduate.
2010: Opened "Azabujuban BAR Shinkai" → 2016: Developed specialty "Yakuzen Curry" → 2018: Opened "Toranomon BAR Shinkai" and in 2019 "Shibadaimon BAR Shinkai" → 2020: Started web media "Japanese Whisky Dictionary".
We will daily communicate the appeal of Japanese whiskey as something we, as bartenders, can do.

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