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The Essence Of Suntory Whisky – Part II

Three new Yamakazi bottlings were tasted by me in the last days. Since the bottles are officially only sold in Japanese bars, in theory you can only taste them during a visit to Japan. Of course the first bottles already appeared in auction houses and this should not surprise you – it’s three different Yamazaki Sherry Cask, bottled between 53-56%ABV. As the quality is (sorry for the spoiler) absolutely lovely, we will see the Yama- aficionados all around the globe hunting this set with passion and effort.

So here we go:

THE ESSENCE of SUNTORY WHISKY YAMAZAKI DISTILLERY
〈REFILL SHERRY CASK〉, 10 year, 53% abv, 500ml

Aged in a re-filled sherry cask

Colour: dark gold
Nose: Delicate, dry Sherry/Madeira with a hint of orange, in addition a light wood smell of wet cedar wood. There is a beautiful, slightly subliminal sweetness of compote, dried fruit and fresh peach, which at the same time has a cooling effect due to the delicate hints of menthol.
Mouth: In the mouth less sweet at first than the nose promises, rather typical Oloroso sherry aromas, rather dry, somewhat peppery, delicate oak aromas and a slightly dry mouthfeel.
Finish: sweetish fresh, medium long, towards the end light dryness and acidity.

Conclusion: A delicate, well-balanced whisky that complements the dry sherry notes with nuances of fruit and light bitter notes. A subliminal, but always present note of oranges gives it a distinctive twist, the increased drinking strength of 53% is well chosen.

THE ESSENCE of SUNTORY WHISKY YAMAZAKI DISTILLERY
〈SPANISH OAK〉, 9 year, 56% abv, 500ml

Aged in a virgin Spanish Oak wood cask made in-house by Suntory

Colour: Vermilion
Nose: Heavy, spicy sherry with a slight dryness, accompanied by herbs (some menthol, eucalyptus), a layer of white chocolate, candied ginger and the smell of melted honey in a hot cup of tea.
Mouth: Creamy sweetness, darker chocolate (60-70% cocoa), pickled raisins and a heavy sherry with classic PX flavours.
Finish: Sweet spice of oak, some white pepper over heavy sherry, drying towards the end.

Conclusion: Much more luxuriant and heavier than the „Refill Sherry Cask“, more syrup, lots of wood and oak spice, a real malt for lovers of heavy sherry ripening.

THE ESSENCE of SUNTORY WHISKY YAMAZAKI DISTILLERY
〈MONTILLA WINE CASK〉, 9 year, 55% abv, 500ml

Aged in an an ex-Montilla cask

Colour: copper red
Nose: A stunning aromatic density of toffee, coffee, milk chocolate, fudge, cinnamon, raisins and sweet sherry. Soft and round, a heavenly aroma you can’t get enough of.
Mouth: Intense chocolate aromas, spicy oak and a buttery, oily texture, delicate nuances of cappuccino cream and maple syrup.
Finish: Rich sweetness, accompanied by bitter and slightly acidic aromas and spicy wood tones.

Conclusion: A very soft, easy to drink whisky with many facets. The Montilla barrel has a similar character to a classic PX – but the sweetness is differentiated and gives other, more delicate aromas more room to unfold.

Overall ranking:

After the more experimental ESSENCE of SUNTORY edition with a Peated Yamazaki, a Hakushu Rye and a Chita, SUNTORY is on the safe side this time. Three different sherry casks from Yamazaki are part of the ESSENCE of SUNTORY Edition number 2. Lovers of Yamazaki sherry casks bottlings will definitely enjoy this ride. The Japanese show how diverse and multi-faceted sherry-matured whisky can be. For a very good reason the worldwide success of YAMAZAKI is based on their legendary Sherry-Cask bottlings. With the ESSENCE of SUNTORY trilogy, there are three new, very well made whiskies that expand the distillery’s portfolio. A pre-olympic test run for the next YAMAZAKI Sherry Cask – Edition 2020?

Volkmar Weber (Whiskytempel.de)

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