Friday 14 October 2022

Tasted #592: Yamazaki "Age Unknown" 30 Year Old (TimeforWhisky 10 Year Anniversary Dram)

Our second 10th Anniversary dram whisky comes from Japan…in the form of a 30 Year Old Yamazaki.

Hold up....Yamazaki? 30 Years Old? 

How often has someone told you they tried a 21 or 30yo Yamazaki, and you just know they meant Hibiki? I mean, apart from single casks, Yamazakis are usually always NAS, 10, 12, 18 or 25yo, right?

Generally, yes, but in 1989 a very limited Yamazaki "Age Unknown” was released, containing Yamazaki from the 1960s and bottled at 25 years old. 5 years later in 1994, a further 300 bottles were released with an extra 5 years maturation, making this 30 year old Yamazaki!

(You can tell these older 1994 bottles apart as they have the signature of “Keizo Saji” on the label - Suntory’s chairman).

WhiskyFun gave this a WF96 recently, a score very few whiskies achieve. With these kind of figures (300 bottles, released 28 years ago, WF96, WB94.67 etc..) I'd fully expected this to fall into the "whiskies Martin will never try" category...but then on a recent trip to Melbourne, the incredibly generous Deni Kay (@deni_kay) invited me around for an evening with he and his Old Master Spirits partner David (@whisky.nerd), where David kindly shared this. I wasn't about to say no! Absolute legends, both of these blokes. 

Yamazaki "Age Unknown" Keizo Saji Release (43% ABV, 30yo, 1 of 300 bottles, Japan, Price: lots and lots and lots, if you could even find a bottle)

Colour: Deep rich gold.

Nose: Instantly, I get Golden Rough chocolate (Aussie readers will know it) - milk chocolate with roasted coconut. Straight back to my childhood. That's followed up by creamy vanilla, sultanas, coffee grounds, aged honey, a humidor full of lovingly-aged cigars and a slight nuttiness (walnuts). It's like someone took all the best notes from a beautifully-aged, clean sherried dram, and all the best notes from a beatifully-aged Mizunara dram, and mashed them together. Simply stunning.

Palate: Mercifully, the nose is backed up by an equally complex and stunning palate. There's some spice initially, but it doesn't overpower (like it does in the 2014 Yamazaki Mizunara), and sits alongside more coconut, milk chocolate, sandalwood, nougat and honey in perfect harmony. Back in 2017 I wrote that the 2017 Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Year Old had one of the most incredible noses I'd experienced, but the palate didn't match it. In this Age Unknown, it does.

Finish: Long, very long (especially considering the 43% ABV), with coconut, sandalwood, mild woodspice, caramel and honey.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 95/100. Simply incredible. One of the greatest whiskies I've ever had. Anyone have a spare $40k AUD?

See you tomorrow for dram number 3!


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