Wednesday 25 September 2013

Tasted #37: Yamazaki Puncheon Cask

To date, one of my top three whiskies is the excellent Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel. It's also incredibly hard to come across these days, being released in only very limited numbers in 2011 and 2012 (with 2013's release due out in November).

The Yamazaki Puncheon cask is also from an ex-Bourbon barrel, of sorts. A Puncheon is a larger type of barrel, in this case 480L (compared with a typical hogshead of ~230L), commonly used in the American whiskey industry.

So what does that mean for the whisky? Well you can assume that since there's more liquid in the barrel, there's going to be less wood contact overall, and so some of the flavours might be a bit muted compared to the Bourbon barrel. To be honest apart from that I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I knew I hadn't met a Yamazaki I didn't like, so in I went (on the off chance that I didn't like it, I was pretty sure I could follow up with something more to my liking given Whisky + Alement's excellent selection (see right).

Yamazaki Puncheon Cask (NAS, 48%, Japan)

Nose: Light. Slight fruit notes. Sweet but not to the dessert-like extent of the Bourbon barrel. No spice notes either.

Palate: Light on the palate - I'd have picked it as a 40% rather than a 48% ABV. Similar vanilla ice cream notes as the Bourbon barrel, but toned down, and less sweetness overall.

Finish: Still sweet, but again - lighter, fruitier. Sharp, but overall, a bit "less" than the Bourbon barrel.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. To be fair, almost anything going up against the TUN 1401 I tried just before this was going to struggle. Not a bad whisky by any stretch of the imagination, but not a touch on the 2011 Bourbon barrel.

- Martin.

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